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Posts posted by dkurtenbach

  1. 1 hour ago, qwazse said:

    Skill mastery in a wide range of areas is definitely BSA's most valuable asset.

    I think if skill mastery was really important to the BSA, the rank requirements would be written to ensure mastery, and re-testing of any and every Scout-through-First Class skill would be part of advancement through Eagle Scout rank. 

  2. Most telling, I think, is when a Scout wants to go to a merit badge clinic without knowing what merit badges are being offered.  Or, just as often, when a parent wants the Scout to go to a merit badge clinic without knowing what merit badges are being offered.  A close runner-up is when a Scout or parent expresses a goal for how many merit badges the Scout should earn at summer camp -- not which badges, but how many badges.  Then there is the Scout with a goal to earn every merit badge available.  The only saving grace there is that the Scout is actually trying to do something that is hard and takes a long time.

    • Upvote 2
  3. 13 hours ago, MattR said:

    The underlying issue seems, to me at least, that "learning a skill" is the end goal.

    Oh, I think that receiving a badge is usually the end goal.  Not learning a skill, not exploring a new subject or career field.  Why?  Because in Cub Scouts we train youth and parents that earning a badge or pin or belt loop or other doo-dad is the achievement.  And we train them to think that the more badges received, the better the Scout.  And that carries over into ScoutsBSA.  To be fair, that is perfectly understandable.  Badges and other awards received are like grades in school:  the only easily-understandable way for Scouts and parents to measure whether they are getting anything out of the program.

  4. This was a "consent" order, meaning that the main interested parties agreed to it, wrote it up, and asked the judge to sign it.  BSA and the other parties are saying that:

    • Not only is the national organization being sued by abuse victims, but so are Learning for Life, numerous councils, chartered organizations, and others who have not filed bankruptcy. 
    • And while the bankruptcy prevents all of those lawsuits from moving forward against the national organization, it doesn't prevent those abuse lawsuits from moving forward against all of the other parties.
    • But if those hundreds of abuse lawsuits move forward in a piecemeal fashion against everyone else, it will necessarily require the national organization to do a lot of work and spend a lot of money because even though they are all separate organizations, they all have lots of business and contractual ties and lots of shared information.
    • It will also be very expensive for all of those plaintiffs all over the country to continue their lawsuits separately against the councils and other parties.
    • And if the national organization has to spend a lot of resources on these continuing abuse lawsuits all over the country, there will be a lot less money available to those plaintiffs from the national organization, once their claims are determined in the bankruptcy.
    • So it is in everyone's interest to hit "pause" on the lawsuits against the councils and other defendants so they don't waste BSA's money, their own money, and the money of the other defendants while they try to figure out if they can do a global settlement among BSA national and all of the plaintiffs and all of the councils and other defendants.
    • Like 1
    • Upvote 3
  5. Yes -- Get rid of it! Far too many unit, district, and council resources are wasted on this obsolete process.  If council wants to renew the charter agreement with a chartered organization, then do it; there is no need to include the whole roster reconciliation and annual payment process at the same time.  Apply for membership and pay the membership fee and fees for the unit you are joining online.  Once a member is approved, automatic renewal and payment unless the member or unit cancels.  You want to see who is registered in your unit?  Open up the unit roster on My.Scouting -- every unit already has at least three people who can do that.  And there is really no reason why adults have to register in a particular position (except no-fee positions, such as merit badge counselors).  Let adults register as generic Adult Members, then assign them roles in My. Scouting.

    • Upvote 4
  6. 5 hours ago, RememberSchiff said:

    If the GSUSA is granted relief to proceed with the trademark lawsuit in NY,  is the GSUSA then removed from the Chapter 11 select creditor panel?

    I did not understand their selection as their claims appear wholly based on damages yet to be "proven" in that trademark lawsuit. :confused:

    I suspect that given the amount GSUSA is asking for in its claim, it will remain on the panel.  Any and all claims must still (1) be determined to be valid (that BSA owes something to the claimant), (2) have the full amount of a valid claim determined (how much BSA owes to the claimant), (3) have a determination of how, and how much, valid claims will actually be paid from the available assets.  The validity and amount of many claims will be undisputed.  The validity of many claims will be undisputed, but the amount owed will be disputed.  And both the validity and amount of many claims (like GSUSA's) will be disputed.  Whenever there is a dispute, it has to be resolved through some process in the bankruptcy court (such as an "adversary action," essentially a sub-lawsuit within the greater bankruptcy), or a process overseen by the bankruptcy court (negotiation, mediation), or a process authorized by the bankruptcy court (a lawsuit in another court -- what GSUSA is asking for).  Once the dispute is resolved, the result still has to be rolled into the bigger bankruptcy's overall resolution and payment.

    • Thanks 1
    • Upvote 1
  7. And a little glimpse of what modern business litigation looks like, from page 15 of the GSUSA brief:

    In the Trademark Action, the parties have:
    • produced more than 350,000 pages of documents,
    • completed 37 fact depositions,
    • collected documents from the majority of the 15 subpoenaed third parties,
    • nearly completed document collections from 14 Girl Scout councils and 18 Boy
    Scout councils, and
    • exchanged opening round expert reports concerned with consumer surveys.

  8. 20 minutes ago, RememberSchiff said:


    GSUSA motion for relief of automatic stay request  to resume trademark action


    GSUSA 88 page brief in support of that motion


    From the GSUSA brief at p.7:

    Moreover, the association between the Girl Scouts’ brand, long a symbol of girl empowerment,
    and that of the Boy Scouts’ brand, one mired in ever-mounting scandals regarding sexual abuse,
    has caused further harm to the Girl Scouts by tarnishing its unique and historic legacy.

    And from pp. 12-13:

    The continued use of the SCOUT mark and variations thereof in connection with all of
    Boy Scouts’ core programs offered to girls of all ages on a nationwide basis has diluted and will
    continue to dilute Girl Scouts’ famous GIRL SCOUTS trademark by blurring its distinctiveness
    and creating an improper and inaccurate association with Boy Scouts. Such improper
    associations are of particular concern to Girl Scouts because Boy Scouts has received significant
    negative publicity regarding its activities conducted under the BOY SCOUTS and SCOUTS 
    marks, such that the goodwill associated with those terms when used in connection with boys’
    leadership development services has been damaged.

    In particular, there have been lawsuits and media articles alleging: a poor child safety
    record with respect to certain aspects of Boy Scouts’ programs; acts of misconduct perpetrated
    by some of its leaders over the years; and Boy Scouts’ decision to lobby against child protection
    statutes in certain states. The threat to the Girl Scouts’ brand has become more pronounced
    with the commencement of this Bankruptcy Case and the negative publicity that comes with it.
    This Bankruptcy Case in particular will be accompanied by more negative publicity than would
    be expected in the normal course of a bankruptcy proceeding, as the aforementioned sexual
    abuse scandals and lawsuits at the heart of the bankruptcy will receive increased press scrutiny.



  9. 16 hours ago, Cburkhardt said:

    Last comment I'll make on patrols is that some of this dis-use of patrols may be caused by troops being just plain small.  I was in a 75-scout troop as a kid that had 8 patrols, so the practical reality is that we had to them even if we didn't want to!  There are just two many troops that don't even have 25 Scouts, which is just barely enough to have three competitive patrols show up to something.  Big troops are better in every way and make for great patrols that love to outdo each other.  

    A troop of eight Scouts or so is a patrol without the middleman; a patrol in the purest sense:  independent, required to carry out all the various tasks and responsibilities of Scouting themselves without the support of some larger infrastructure, and required by circumstances to get along and rely upon each other for success.  Not to mention having the advantages of being highly mobile, flexible, bureaucracy-free, and having a light administrative burden.  And structured to be more environmentally-friendly than larger groups.  The biggest challenge for a small troop is having enough adults willing and able to engage in an active schedule of outdoor adventure.  Given its advantages, I have often wondered whether the trek-crew-size independent patrol/small troop -- already the only option in many rural areas -- is the ideal structure for Scouting.

    • Upvote 1
  10. Just a little litigation update.  You may recall that the Girl Scouts of the USA sued the Boy Scouts of America in federal court in New York, alleging violations of trademark law by BSA.  Generally, GSUSA claims that when referring to a program for boys, BSA has exclusive right to terms like "Scout" and "Scouts," and when referring to a program for girls, GSUSA has exclusive right to "Scout" or "Scouts."  So when BSA uses "Scout" or "Scouts" when referring to girls in BSA programs, it creates confusion and infringes on GSUSA's trademark.  That case is still in the "discovery" stage, in which the sides seek to obtain all kinds of information from each other to support their claims and defenses.  BSA has notified the New York court that it is now in Chapter 11 in bankruptcy court in Delaware and that the "automatic stay" under bankruptcy law halts all other ongoing litigation.  The New York court has now ordered GSUSA to ask the bankruptcy court to allow the trademark suit to continue in New York. 

    • Thanks 1
  11. 1 hour ago, Cburkhardt said:

    If Venturing is so reduced in numbers and dysfunctional in terms of its recognition program and structure, perhaps the national reorganization bankruptcy is the right time to re-examine its role in Scouting. 

    Some might say the same things about ScoutsBSA membership numbers, the "one-and-done" ScoutsBSA advancement program, and the erosion of the ScoutsBSA patrol as the most important structural feature of the program.

    • Like 1
    • Upvote 2
  12. 42 minutes ago, Cburkhardt said:

    Finally, Exploring was spun-off exclusively because the BSA was being forced to discontinue the DADT policy for career-oriented programming in the 90s.  So, a then-influencial group with national forced the career programming entirely outside of BSA membership.  That way the rest of the program would still be subjected to DADT.  Because we discontinued DADT, there is no longer any reason to maintain an organizational divide between the career programming and the outdoor programming for young adults.

    BSA's traditional programs, including Venturing, still exclude atheists.  The Exploring program's Non-Discrimination Statement reads:  "Exploring programs are designed for all age groups starting at 10 and not yet age 21. Youth participation is open to any youth in the prescribed age group for that particular program. Adults are selected by the participating organization for involvement in the program. Color, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, disability, economic status or citizenship is not criteria for participation by youth or adults."

  13. 7 hours ago, Treflienne said:

    If you have a scout who (a) wants to be in a fully coed group (b) despises the unifrom  (c) cannot stand rah rah of patrol spirit items  and (d) would rather be able to ignore the old-fashioned stuff in the rank advancment program  ---  then maybe that scout would be a happier fit as a Venturer.     Especially if said scout loves backpacking, canoeing, etc, etc.


    5 hours ago, mashmaster said:

    Scouts BSA is much different from Venturing and Sea Scouting.  The older programs are much more youth led and they go until their 21st birthday.  They focus on high adventure activities and work extremely well in teams because they are more mature.  They also are truly co-ed rather than segregated like in Scouts BSA.  They are truly great programs that are radically different than Scouts BSA.

    If Venturing -- fully co-ed, uniforms optional, no patrols, no ranks, awards optional -- is a program that has real value and is a great alternative to ScoutsBSA, why not make it available to younger boys and girls, as an alternative to ScoutsBSA starting right after Cub Scouts?  Have an age-appropriate Junior Venturing program that takes the youth through 8th grade, then they graduate into the high school-and-beyond Venturing program. By stripping away many of the complicated features of ScoutsBSA, Venturing gets down to the essence of Scouting:  planning and doing things that require learning skills, and growing through failure and success. As @desertrat77 stated, "Simple and complex at the same time.   When it works, it is scouting at its very best."  And because Venturing does not use rank advancement but instead is built around planning and carrying out adventures, it is ideal for recruiting youth of any age because no member is ever "behind" his or her peers.


  14. 51 minutes ago, mashmaster said:

    I am a Skipper for a Sea Scout Ship and also a leader in a Venture crew.  Scouts BSA is much different from Venturing and Sea Scouting.  The older programs are much more youth led and they go until their 21st birthday.  They focus on high adventure activities and work extremely well in teams because they are more mature.  They also are truly co-ed rather than segregated like in Scouts BSA.  They are truly great programs that are radically different than Scouts BSA.

    If I recall, the Sea Scout program is advancement-oriented, skills-oriented, and outdoor adventure-oriented, isn't it?  But in Venturing, using the Venturing awards program is an individual and crew choice, and the type of crew activities are pretty much up to the crew, so Venturing isn't necessarily high adventure -- is that correct?

  15. 30 minutes ago, Oldscout448 said:


    Some of the best ventures I ever saw dropped out when they hit the 18-19 mark.    Why?   In their words   

    "  We have the skills to go hiking, camping, fishing on our own.  We have our own gear, our own cars,  some money.   We are mostly Eagles so we don't care about more bling on our shirts. No one knows what they are anyway.  We just want to hang out with our buds around a campfire, maybe enjoy a beer or two.  We just don't need/want all of those silly restrictions that come with Scouting"

    The reality is that in today's hyper-litigious society, an organization would be nuts to sponsor youth-only activities without adult supervision, despite written warnings to parents about the potential for injury or death and written agreements by parents not to blame the organization should any such thing occur.  Insurance costs would be huge.  Many parents would simply keep their kids away from an organization with those kinds of activities.  The ones who did allow their kids to sign up would be screaming at the slightest injury and pulling their kids out.  Any significant injury would require the organization to compensate the "victim" via a settlement or risk a lawsuit.  Gone are the days when parents accepted the risk of injuries to their children in exchange for the benefits of a program.

  16. On Fox News Sunday today, the "Power Player of the Week" is Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.  https://video.foxnews.com/v/6139456821001#sp=show-clips

    The thrust of the segment is about STEM in Girl Scouts, but Ms. Acevedo also comments on GSUSA's legacy of leadership, and characterizes BSA's acceptance of girls in Cub Scouts and the former Boy Scout program as "another competitor in the marketplace."

    (In a sort-of-related development, in the GSUSA trademark lawsuit against BSA, BSA has advised the court about its bankruptcy, which should pause the trademark suit for a while.) 

    1. As the first Venturer handbook shows, it was originally intended that Venturing crews structure their programs around the Venturing award requirements:  Bronze (with its five specialty areas), Gold, Silver, and Ranger (the highest specialty award, later joined by a couple of other specialty awards).  The awards program was leadership- and individual achievement-oriented, similar to Star/Life/Eagle advancement in Boy Scouts.  Surprise!  A high percentage of crews largely ignored the awards program.  With youth not earning awards, BSA had nothing to count, and so no statistics to show how successful Venturing was at developing youth into leaders.
    2. Even if crews had cooperated with that awards-based program, no one understood how Venturing was supposed to fit together with Boy Scouting or whether there was supposed to be some sort of natural transition to Venturing.  BSA was encouraging troops to form crews, and had rules about continuing Boy Scout ranks in Venturing (except for female youth, of course), but a lot of troops didn't want to lose their older Scouts to Venturing.  Also confusing, Boy Scouts had "Venture Crew" program within troops (renamed to Venture Patrols) that shared an awards program with the separate-unit Varsity Scouting program.
    3. With Venturing, BSA had five programs for high school-age youth:  Boy Scouts (boy only); Varsity Scouts (boys only), Sea Scouts (co-ed), Venturing (co-ed), and Exploring (co-ed) (transferred to the fully-inclusive Learning for Life BSA subsidiary, but still supported by councils).
    4. The average lifespan of Venturing crews was about two years. 
    • Upvote 2
  17. 1 hour ago, skeptic said:

    One of my biggest beliefs is that BSA has the opportunity to be in the real forefront of the environmental surge.  We should be doing all we can to encourage varieties of clean energy, solar and wind particularly, and water in a few areas.  We should be demonstrating in all the camps conservation methods to best use the various habitats and geographical elements.  . . .  Focus on that thing called service and being prepared, but make it fit the 21st century when we can, but still teach the best from the past.

    Good stuff.  I believe that the (1) Scouting program (2) as delivered by local units is how we recover from the bankruptcy and rebuild membership.  I think we could really help ourselves in recruiting if we could do some trimming and tucking in the program, using the ScoutsBSA advancement requirements as the starting place.  We need to be able to explain in 15 seconds what ScoutBSA members DO, what Cub Scouts DO.  So I'd suggest the program consist of no more than four "core" areas -- or rather, Service plus three subject-matter areas, for example:

    • Outdoor Adventure
    • Environment and Nature
    • Emergency Response
    • Service and Citizenship
    • Upvote 1
  18. 16 hours ago, ParkMan said:

    At our core, Scouting is a fun activity for kids that gives them new experiences and adventures.  Along the way the kid learns some self reliance and independence.  The program is led by parents from withing our community which means it reflects the values of the kids in the program.  If you look at it like that, there is very little that most parents cannot get behind.  There is no reason to want to destroy Scouting.  In fact, it is exactly the kind of supportive, nurturing environment that progressives want.  

    The problem is that we all want to label it.  Many of our former and current members want to label it as a conservative, religious, based program.  Many of those outside of the movement see that and want to criticize it for that reason.  It is well within the reach of Scouting to move past all these labels and get to what it really is - a fun activity for kids, that installs self reliance, and led by people who share your values.  Further, if one pack is too progressive for your liking, join the more conservative one down the street.

    I live in a pretty progressive area.  We have had numerous parents who are of exactly the type of people who you'd think would oppose Scouting on principal.  I've heard several parents remark that they never thought their child would enjoy Scouting, but then for some reason or another took a chance and learned more about our pack & troop.  As a result, we've had great membership success.

    (Emphasis added.)

    9 hours ago, ParkMan said:

    My belief is that as long as Scouting is identified with promoting particular views, it becomes a target for one political group or another.  The BSA promoting anti-progressive (aka conservative) views makes it a target for progressives.  The BSA promoting anti-conservative (aka progressive) views makes it a target for conservatives. . . . 

    As a BSA community, we really ought to play it straight.  There's really no reason to associate Scouting with any one political ideology any more.  Make it about great adventures with your kids.

    (Emphasis added.)

    Great posts that go to the heart of BSA's current problems, and how to fix them.  BSA, thinking it was a moral beacon for America, took a side in the culture war and was constantly attacked because of it for more than twenty years.  When BSA finally surrendered, it had lost credibility with all sides.  Regardless of how you feel about the war, BSA lost because it lost its identity and lost its standing as an American icon that could appeal to everyone.  As former CSE Bob Mazzuca said, "For the first time in our history, we had adversaries. Back in the day when I started, it was motherhood, apple pie and Boy Scouts."  

    How do you bring people back to Scouting -- and along the way re-earn Scouting a place in American society?

    (1) Go back to what the program is really about:  "The purposes of the corporation are to promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using the methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916."  BSA Congressional Charter, U.S. Code Title 36 Sec. 30902.  As @ParkMan says, "Scouting is a fun activity for kids that gives them new experiences and adventures.  Along the way the kid learns some self reliance and independence."

    (2) Win people back Cub Scout pack by Cub Scout pack and ScoutsBSA troop by ScoutsBSA troop:  "I've heard several parents remark that they never thought their child would enjoy Scouting, but then for some reason or another took a chance and learned more about our pack & troop.  As a result, we've had great membership success."


    • Upvote 2
  19. 33 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

    What you are suggesting is (1) holding Scouts back from advancing to Second Class and First Class even if they have the desire and the dedication to do so; (2) lock-step advancement for new Scouts rather than letting them each advance at their own pace; and (3) holding them back from learning advanced skills in specific areas that are at the Second Class and First Class levels.

    I should note that, personally, I think it is dumb to be able to work on four ranks at the same time (all seven at once, if you count merit badges).  But that is the current rule.  If BSA wants Scouts to be able to work on all of the ranks at the same time, then just get rid of the ranks below the top.  If BSA wants a series of ranks, then Scouts should only be able to work on one at a time, or the system doesn't mean much.  But again, that isn't the current rule. 

    Just another symptom of a sprawling, confused program that needs some serious tightening up, re-arrangement, and focus.

    • Upvote 1
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