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Posts posted by dkurtenbach

  1. 7 minutes ago, Mrjeff said:

    I find it interesting that people quote BP like they quote the Bible.  Bits and pieces are pulled out in order to fit the situation.  If we choose to follow the advice of BP and quote it as an absolute, shouldn't we quote all of it?

    I like the 1920 edition of Aids to Scoutmastership as a relatively complete yet concise compilation of Baden-Powell's whys and hows of Scouting.  One place to find it is at  http://thedump.scoutscan.com/a2sm.pdf .

    8 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

    If you want to discuss how scouting today has lost the soul of outdoors program, you will get lots of thumbs up.

    From page 51 of the aforementioned Aids to Scoutmastership pdf:


    Yes-that open air is the secret of success.  It is what Scouting is for-to develop the out-of-doors habit as much as possible.

    I asked a Scoutmaster once, in a great city, how he managed his Saturday hikes, whether in the park or in the country? He did not have them at all.  

    Why not? Because his boys did not care about them.  They preferred to come into the meeting room on Saturday afternoons!

    Of course they preferred it, poor little beggars; they were accustomed to being indoors.  But that is what we are out to prevent in the Scouts-our object is to wean them from indoors and to make the outdoors attractive to them. 

    • Upvote 4
  2. 20 minutes ago, Sentinel947 said:

    Gross. At least we would solve the world's energy crisis by hooking up Dan Beard, William Hillcourt, Baden Powells graves to an alternators. 

    No worries.  The young ladies wouldn't stand for it.  They want the rugged outdoor program and the challenge of really earning Eagle Scout.  They will easily outshine the boys and shame the leaders of male troops with their toughness, discipline, and determination.  The girls will save the program that was Boy Scouting despite their lazy laggard brothers.

    • Haha 1
    • Upvote 1
  3. 45 minutes ago, desertrat77 said:

    Good question!

    What the BSA should jettison:  Cubs

    What the BSA would ultimately jettison:  Scouts BSA

    In 2020, the BSA's overall mentality operates on a cub level, even for troops and crews.  Lots of adults, easy/low risk programming, tons of badges to present, national supply items galore, and everyone goes home at the end of the day.  Many would say a big "no thanks" on the idea of a high adventure backpacking trip in the mountains with a crew of mercurial teens.  Even though a trip like that is true goal of scouting (at least by my definition), it would require a level of leadership, outdoor skill, and risk acceptance that many scouters today cannot tolerate.

    I don't see STEM being a big calling card for new recruits.  And chances are, the BSA would screw up STEM so bad everyone would quit.

    I think you're right.  Cub Scouts is incredibly flexible when it comes to subject matter, so you don't have the same problem as Scouts BSA and its association with the outdoors.  And those Cubbies are so darn cute in their uniforms, especially the youngest ones, and they sell a lot of popcorn. 

    Now, I could see Scouts BSA being cut down to a strictly two- or three-year trail-to-Eagle program:  Forty or so merit badges (that seems to be about the average these days) earned at monthly merit badge fairs, a few token campouts (but cabins are okay) and hikes (though you could substitute snowboarding, motorboating, or zip-lining) a couple of no-responsibility leadership positions, and a service project. The one sensible thing about it would be that practically everyone who joined would earn Eagle Scout. 

    • Upvote 2
  4. Well, we've talked a lot about a few cows and lots of cats and dogs.  How about the two pillars of the Boy Scouts of America?  Suppose we can keep either Cub Scouting or Scouts BSA, but not both.  Which one is kept, which one gets chucked into the dumpster of history?  Should either be put on the chopping block in the "new" BSA?  Maybe replace Scouts BSA with STEM Scouts?

  5. 16 minutes ago, Cburkhardt said:

    I think what this really comes down to is that BSA unit leaders are the kind of folks who will not want to subject their units or themselves personally to the direct authority of a BSA employee -- with the notable exception of violations of YPT and similarly-serious health and safety matters.  If the CO system is modified or replaced, I think unit leaders will insist on a reasonable alternative "supervisory" structure.

    And as it happens, we already have a corps of volunteers at the district and council levels who are dedicated to building high-quality units.  Units owned by the Council, supervised by the volunteer Commissioners.  

    • Upvote 1
  6. 38 minutes ago, Mrjeff said:

    Units are going to do whatever the unit leaders are comfortable with no matter what the rules say.  That's fact, that's how things really work and the whole idea of the BSA Security and Enforcement Branch is rather laughable. 

    Well, I know of a couple of instances in which our Council Deputy Scout Executive/COO was brought in to deal with, shall we say, disruptive influences.  But you have given a good reason for making changes to the current system.  

  7. This is, in my opinion, a direct result of BSA attempting to transform itself. 

    - It started as an organization that uses the outdoors to both attract youth and to develop in them useful skills, responsibility, and citizenship through outdoor living and adventure with a small community (the patrol). 

    - Perhaps developing a puffed-up sense of its own importance, BSA began to advertise itself as an organization that teaches character and values, but still does some outdoor stuff.  See, for example, former CSE Bob Mazzuca's statement about rubbing two sticks together to make a fire while sitting side by side with an adult of character.

    - Over time, membership in the outdoor-centric program (Boy Scouts) became more and more limited to members who had first spent years in an indoor-centric "Scouting" program (Cub Scouts) -- which was also nearly twice as large as Boy Scouting (and therefore, nearly twice as large in importance to BSA).

    - The Patrol Method, designed for camp life, lost significance as the nature of Scout camping changed to make it more efficient and less work for the Scouts.

    - With growing concern over membership loss, BSA began more aggressively branching out into non-outdoor areas.  See, for example, the original Bronze awards in Venturing, which included awards for Arts & Hobbies, Sports, and Religious Life; the Varsity Scout program, which had a strong sports component; the Soccer and Scouting program, designed to attract Hispanic families to Scouting; Sports and Academics belt loops in Cub Scouting; and the recent development of STEM Scouts and Explorer Clubs (taking the concept of career Exploring to younger kids).

    - Even Boy Scout summer camps became classrooms for many non-outdoors merit badge subjects. 


    • Upvote 2
  8. Another aspect of the Chartered Organization structure is the influence that it gives to outside organizations (such as churches) that sponsor many units.  When the institutional views of the BSA and the institutional views of the outside organization are compatible, the relationship is productive.  When those views diverge -- which we have experienced a couple of times in the last decade -- it is not just major donations to BSA that suffer.  It can reach all the way down to the unit level, with the loss of meeting places and even the loss of membership.

    • Upvote 1
  9. It will be interesting to see the financial effects of closed summer camps this year.  I suspect that many councils will find that their annual budget has taken less of a hit because they don't have to fill the annual deficit from summer camp operations.   


    27 minutes ago, Cburkhardt said:

    The CO system protects the independence of each unit's operating style because decisions are reviewed by our CO.  Be careful for what you wish for.

    Most chartered organizations are not involved in their units and never will be.  That means is that a poor operating style in a unit that is doing a disservice to its members is protected by the indifference of the chartered organization. The interests of a district or council leader are money, members, and manpower (volunteers), and those three things only come from high performing units that have trained leaders and active outdoor programs.  I want the boss to be somebody who knows what the program is supposed to look like and has the authority to put the right people in the right spots.

    • Upvote 4
  11. 28 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

    I kind of like that idea. A large group of adults (50/50 men and women) become scouters for their own personal adventure. Right or wrong, there are A LOT of them. Wood Badge was a natural temptation for these adults because it was an adult oriented honor society that doesn't fit with the unit level volunteerism. But, as a volunteer corp with the prestige of outdoors expertise with the actions of selfless noble service, it might have an attraction for adults that would keep them out of the scouts way. Hmm, thinking, thinking.


    There is definitely a market for some sort of relaxed organized structure for adults to get together in small groups (patrols?) to go hiking and camping together for their own pleasure and camaraderie, at their own speed, without at the same time having responsibility for youth members.  There is definitely a need for adults (and especially adults with handyman skills and more) to assist Rangers with camp maintenance needs.  There is definitely a need for training new Scouting parents and leaders in basic outdoor skills in an no-pressure, no embarrassment environment -- with more time and attention than can be provided in an IOLS course.  There is definitely a need for a vehicle for modeling the real patrol method for Scouts and leaders alike. And all with these adult members being able to work individually on developing and improving and demonstrating their own Scouting skills and earning some kind of recognition for it.

    For the Joy of Scouting.

    • Upvote 3
  12. This is my list from the "Major Changes Announced" thread, but slightly re-ordered and with topic headings added:

    Uniforms and Insignia

    • Uniforms that include button shirts
    • Uniforms that include official pants/shorts/skorts/skirts, socks, or belts
    • Sashes
    • Badges, patches, pins, loops, danglies, and other standard insignia normally attached to uniforms or uniform parts (but keep ceremonial awards attached to pin-on ribbons, and items worn around the neck)

    Program Elements - Cub Scouting

    • Terminology:  "Webelos"
    • Terminology:  "Arrow of Light" (as a rank)

    Program Elements - Scouts BSA

    • Teminology:  "Tenderfoot" 
    • Terminology:  "Second Class"
    • Terminology:  "First Class"
    • Boards of Review
    • Eagle Scout leadership projects, applications, special rules and procedures, and the entire Eagle Scout bureaucracy
    • Knots as separate requirements

    Entire Programs

    • STEM Scouts
    • Venturing

    Organizational Structure

    • Separate types of units (packs, troops, crews, posts, labs) 
    • Adult leader registration in specific positions (adult leaders should register as adult leaders, not Scoutmasters, Den Leaders, Committee Members, etc.)
    • Separate district/council committee and district/council commissioner organizations (everyone not in a unit should be a commissioner - period)
    • Chartered organizations, so that (1) innocent community groups are not sued for what happens in Scouting, and (2) BSA is not beholden to any outside constituencies
    • Rechartering
    • Upvote 2
  13. 1 minute ago, TAHAWK said:

    That would require paid Scouters who actually know "the way it is supposed to be."  

    You've got a few choices for getting Scout leaders and parents to keep the program in the lane and direction it is supposed to be going.  One way is paid Scouters.  Seems unrealistic.  Another way is indoctrination of the parents and leaders up front, followed by regular coaching and reinforcement to keep it on track.  That is BSA's model.  But it lacks the indoctrination up front and the regular coaching and reinforcement along the way.  A third approach is to provide a totally "canned" program -- specific, step-by-step and week-by-week instructions -- and remove discretion from the leaders and parents to deviate.  Even though BSA has developed and published such specific program guides, it has not required their use.  So here we are. 

  14. 1 hour ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

    Mixed emotions on the Webelos program. I have found that when packs utilize it like it was meant to be, preparing them for Scouts, it keeps interested. These packs start distancing parents at events and making sure the Webelos are doing it. The Webelos are doing camping on their own or with a troop, and have the Webelos doing the work instead of the parents. Pack I was with usually did Cross Over in the December/January time frame. It was long enough for them to meet the time requirements. Plus they started doing more with the troop. Middle son's den did a join Castaway/Wilderness Survival weekend with the troop oldest was in. They had a blast. And the Scout who taught them did a VERY good job. He taught them prior to the camp out. So when they got there, the Webelos knew exactly what to do. They had shelters built, and cooking fires going before some of the Scouts! :) A couple of their shelters were so well built, over a year later, the shelters were still usable if you added a little more debris to them. And while Youngest was ready to Cross Over in December, a few of his den mates were not, and that pushed it back to February, Thank goodness he was able to visit the troop he is in a few months as a "guest."

     So I know the Webelos Program does work.

    But I also know most packs are not doing it correctly. They are continuing to treat the Webelos as Tigers through Bears. They are not telling the parents to let the Webelos start doign things on their own. They do not let the Webelos camp on their own, or wait until 5th grade before camping with a troop. And when they do camp, parents are still doing everything for them.

    Remember the Castaway/Wilderness Survival camp out my middle son went to above? Another pack's Weeblos also went. In fact the Scout doing the teaching had arranged with the two DLs to do joint meetings with both dens at the same time, since both met on the same nite, they would alternate lcoations for a month. Long story short, not only did the parents NOT want to have joint meetings, they didn't think the Scout had the knowledge, skills, or abilities to teach wilderness survival. Especially since one of the dads went through some survival school and got some instructor certification. So that den did their own thing When the time came, that den had a bunch of unneeded stuff they had to lug around, parents complaining the entire time. The while my son's den went right to work, the other den had no clue what to do and was goofing off, not listening to the Scout in charge. Instead of the Scouts building shelters cooking food on fires, etc they parents decided to build one giant shelter for them, and busted out a stove to cook for them. Then they left while my son's den stayed overnight. And I have seen this scenario, parents still doing stuff for their Webelos, over and over again.

    So I know why people complain.

    BUT here is the thing. When the Webelos program is done right, AND if you have an active troop, you will retain Scouts. 3 years later ALL of my son's den are still active in Scouting. Within 6 months, 1/2 the other den quit, and 3 years later only 1 is still active.

    This story spells out why, when it comes to membership, all Scouting is local.  That's not region local, or council local, or district local, it is unit-by-unit local.  Units that follow the plan in detail and have an active outdoor program attract and keep Scouts.  Nothing fancy or cutting edge about the program; there doesn't need to be.  There is nothing BSA National could have done to the Troop's Castaway/Wilderness Survival weekend to get that other Webelos Den interested and active.  The problem was failure to execute the Webelos program as intended.  

    Where National could help with this problem is figuring out how to get the leaders and parents who are in charge of the Webelos program to carry it out the way it is supposed to be.


  15. I think that Chair Elect Ownby's statement that "Some sacred cows will be sacrificed" is hot air, because BSA National leadership just doesn't have the courage to do it.  But I could be wrong about that.  In the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor, we see Army B-25 bombers being stripped of what was initially considered critical equipment (machine guns, bomb sights) to make them light enough to take off from an aircraft carrier for their mission:  the Doolittle Raid on Japan.  In that spirit, I have a few suggestions for items to strip out of Scouting programs:

    • "Tenderfoot"
    • "Second Class"
    • "First Class"
    • "Webelos"
    • "Arrow of Light" (as a rank)
    • Uniforms that include button shirts
    • Uniforms that include official pants/shorts/skorts/skirts, socks, or belts
    • Sashes
    • Badges, patches, pins, loops, danglies, and other standard insignia normally attached to uniforms or uniform parts (but keep ceremonial awards attached to pin-on ribbons, and items worn around the neck)
    • STEM Scouts
    • Venturing
    • Separate types of units (packs, troops, crews, posts, labs) 
    • Adult leader registration in specific positions (adult leaders should register as adult leaders, not Scoutmasters, Den Leaders, Committee Members, etc.)
    • Boards of Review
    • Separate district/council committee and district/council commissioner organizations (everyone not in a unit should be a commissioner - period)
    • Chartered organizations, so that (1) innocent community groups are not sued for what happens in Scouting, and (2) BSA is not beholden to any outside constituencies
    • Rechartering
    • Eagle Scout leadership projects, applications, special rules and procedures, and the entire Eagle Scout bureaucracy
    • Knots as separate requirements
    • Upvote 3
  16. 26 minutes ago, SSScout said:

    The question should be NOT why we want kids to join Scouting, but WHY DO THE KIDS want to join Scouting? 

    I would amend that in this way:  "WHY DO THE PARENTS want their kids to join Scouting?  WHY DO THE KIDS want to stay in Scouting?"  The reason for that change is that most Scouts join as Cub Scouts, and most Cub Scouts join in kindergarten, first grade, or second grade.  At those ages, what really matters is why the parents sign them up.  Later, at Webelos and ScoutsBSA ages, the youth develop their own views about staying in Scouts.

  17. 6 hours ago, fred8033 said:

    In some ways, maybe the future is good.  BSA needs to slim down and decide what type of program it is.  BSA needs to trim off all the side programs and focus on the core.  It's just that BSA does not really know what that core is.  Perhaps, BSA should just use the 1910's handbook.   :)

    (Emphasis added.)  So right.  When Mr. Ownby talks about preserving "useful" traditions and investing in what BSA customers "value," that is really scary.  What traditions does BSA National consider to be "useful"?  What does BSA National think that customers "value"?  Because I am really afraid they are going to say "badges" and "Eagle Scout."

    If asked, I would say, "Do a Good Turn Daily" and "Be Prepared."  

  18. 14 minutes ago, David CO said:

    Fortunately, that foul mouthed cable TV personality is nowhere near my troop.  We don't need him.  Gordon Ramsay, and others like him, are not allowed in my home.  I am aghast at the suggestion that he be a role-model for leadership in BSA. 

    He's a role model for cutting through nonsense, self-delusion, laziness, and rote adherence to the way things have always been done.  Good for rescuing failing organizations.  But not Scoutmaster material himself.

    • Upvote 2
  19. "Are the BSA programs aligned with today's young people?"

    Which young people?

    • The young people who are already Scouts and enjoy it?
    • The young people who have never been Scouts?
    • The young people who left Scouting before aging out?
    •  The young people who are Scouts because their parents signed them up and make them go?

    Surely after all this time BSA has done enough studies and research to know exactly why youth join Scouting, why youth stay in Scouting, why youth leave Scouting, and why youth choose not to join when given the opportunity.

    I think a far better question would be:  "How do we replicate and propagate what active, growing units are doing?"  But of course, BSA already knows the answer to that one too.  It just lacks the will to impose the necessary standards and practices, even though the standards and practices are already well-documented in our publications and training materials.

    And, frankly, I think BSA lacks the will here to impose discipline and direction on a loosey-goosey program that keeps trying new things for no apparent reason, then tinkers with them until they fail.  Where is Gordon Ramsay when you need him?

    • Upvote 4
  20. I watched the recording of the Wednesday General Session, which can be found at https://nam.scouting.org/.  The real meat is the summary by Chair Elect Dan Ownby, about 11 minutes long starting at about 48 minutes into the recording.  Some excerpts:

    •  BSA will emerge from the bankruptcy "with the mission intact."
    •  However, we will have to deliver the mission "with far fewer resources."
    •  One of the six issues looked at by select committees developing strategy:  "Are the BSA programs aligned with today's young people?"
    •  Although "the mission has not changed . . . [quoting Abraham Lincoln] 'we must think anew and act anew' . . . we must change."
    • "Our organization will be barely recognizable to someone who labored with us ten years ago."  (I think this was in reference to the organizational structure rather than the organization overall, but I'm not certain.)
    •  "Some sacred cows will be sacrificed."
    •  "If we don't change, we may get run over by the circumstances and not be here in five years."
    •  "[P]reserving useful traditions . . . we must pivot from valuing the past . . . invest[ing] resources in those programs that our customers most value, allowing others to be cut from the vine." 
    • Thanks 1
    • Upvote 1
  21. On 5/21/2020 at 10:33 AM, T2Eagle said:

    I'm still a bit confused as to how so much of the council assets can be brought into this.  The councils are separate legal entities, domiciled in their own states; that's a hard vale to pierce.  

    Council assets are already at risk because it is not just BSA National that has been sued by abuse victims.  Many, many councils have also been sued (as have chartered organizations) because the abuse took place in those councils, in their camps, and in units chartered by them.  BSA's plan is to bring all claims against all BSA entities and partners together in one place and have one uniform process for compensating victims.  If the councils that have already been sued don't voluntarily participate in a global resolution of abuse claims now as part of BSA National's bankruptcy, they will eventually have to litigate or settle the claims against them council by council, and may have to declare their own bankruptcies.  There are some councils that have not been sued as yet, so they may be reluctant to voluntarily donate assets to the central compensation fund.  But you can bet that plaintiffs' lawyers are actively searching for abuse victims in all of the councils that haven't been sued yet. 

  22. On 5/15/2020 at 12:59 PM, desertrat77 said:

    Scouting started with a handbook and thousands of youth that wanted to explore the outdoors.  They wore old clothes, slept in blankets, and cooked over a fire.  Scouting has strayed light years away from that original vision and enthusiasm.  Our humble origins are ultimately what scouting is really all about.

    Thank you.  I am reminded of the wise Linus explaining to Charlie Brown and the world what Christmas is really all about.  Lights, please.

    • Thanks 1
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