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Everything posted by dkurtenbach

  1. I have to agree with @MattR, at least based on what I've read so far. The issue here is money, and only money. There is nothing about this controversy that provides any reason or incentive to change the basic organizational structure, policies, or programs of the Boy Scouts of America. Some properties may be sold, some councils consolidated, we'll have further declines in membership -- in other words, the status quo. It is exactly what has already been happening in BSA for a long time. Considering the upheaval of the last seven years, there is and will be a strong appetite for trying to a
  2. A good question for the decision makers in BSA to consider. Numerous state legislatures have addressed the moral question of whether victims of abuse that happened many years ago (outside the former statutes of limitation) should have the opportunity to seek compensation. They said yes. The BSA has addressed the moral question of whether to attempt to pay reasonable compensation in response to valid claims of victims of abuse that happened many years ago. BSA said yes. So that leaves the moral and practical question of how to pay the compensation that will eventually be required: Put
  3. I read somewhere that councils and chartered organizations have already been sued along with BSA National, which the claimants would want to do whenever possible. It appears that part of National's plan is to have one bucket of money available for all claims against all BSA organizational defendants. Of course, the attorneys for the claimants will want that bucket to be as large as possible, so I expect that they will push for contributions from councils.
  4. I'm actually talking about possible weaknesses in our youth protection program that may affect the marketability of our program to parents, not what organizational components could be swept into the bankruptcy proceedings.
  5. However strong our current youth protection program is, we still have three weak links: the overwhelming predominance of volunteers operating in highly autonomous units, who are certified to work closely with youth of all ages after taking a two hour internet course. To provide assurances to parents that Scouting is no longer the horror story they have been hearing about, and that it is as safe as their neighborhood schools, one or more of those weak links may have to be replaced.
  6. So in looking at the design of the commissioner program, I would ask a few questions to start: Does every unit need the same level of attention and the same frequency of contact? If not, why doesn't the program design reflect variable levels of commissioner attention -- which would allow for fewer UCs? Wouldn't it be better for both the unit and the district to have multiple unit leaders and multiple district leaders who know each other rather than the district providing just one point of contact? Roundtables, camporees, training, and other district activ
  7. I've seen pretty much the same thing over 20+ years as a UC and Roundtable Commissioner. And how do these less effective UCs get on the commissioner roster in the first place? In my experience, there are three main causes: The District Commissioner is getting a lot of pressure from the Area Commissioner and the Council Commissioner to recruit more UCs, but can't find enough good candidates, so out of frustration signs up any warm body to meet the quota. The District Commissioner talks good Scouters into signing on as new UCs, but those Scouters are already involved in a lot of th
  8. Oh, I think that most UCs ARE unobtrusive and helpful and do (or seek to do) good deeds. The real problem is that there aren't anywhere near enough of them. The single biggest complaint from units about commissioners is that they never see one.
  9. I think there are far too many stories and complaints about poor commissioner service or lack of commissioner service to be dismissed as the commissioners just not doing it right. Certainly there are always performance issues; but if so many dedicated, experienced volunteer Scouters are having trouble making the commissioner program work as intended, then it is fair to conclude that it is at least in part a systemic problem with how the program is designed.
  10. This concise statement is probably the most accurate assessment of the BSA commissioner program that I have ever seen. In the real world, a product or commercial service or business process that is a good idea but rarely works would have long since vanished -- especially one as labor-intensive as this.
  11. That makes a lot of sense. The uniform should be driven by (1) what is appropriate clothing for the "work" being done, (2) what the "workers" want to wear when doing that work. BSA has told us that the "field" uniform is for meetings and ceremonies. If meetings and ceremonies are what BSA thinks Scouts DO, it is no surprise that membership has been steadily dropping.
  12. In our troop back in the late 1960s when I was a Scout, required items for inspection at every meeting were: - Card (separate rank requirement card where you tracked your advancement) - Pencil - Paper - Comb (even if you had a crew cut) - Rope (for knots practice) - Handkerchief (for runny noses) It wasn't so much a uniform inspection as a readiness inspection.
  13. Simplifying the program means fewer people needed to monitor and maintain it over time - lower costs. Simplifying and focusing the program makes it easier to sell to busy families - more membership, more revenue. Flattening ScoutsBSA advancement and making it more experiential should make it easier to recruit older youth (who might be turned off by "Tenderfoot" rank or by being outranked by a Scout two or three years younger) - more membership, more revenue. Uniforms that look contemporary provide an up-to-date, relevant image to the public, putting more focus on what the you
  14. 1. Reduce and focus the subject matter areas covered in the Cub Scout and ScoutsBSA programs. That is, reduce and focus the subject matter areas covered in the advancement requirements in those two programs. Likewise, focus the subject matter covered in the Venturing program. In order to compete against specific, well-understood youth activities such as soccer, piano lessons, tae kwon do, etc., we need to be able to state -- in three or four short phrases -- what youth DO in each program. Identify those specific areas and clear out program elements that do not directly fall in those areas.
  15. So, suppose that you've got ten or so troops within your local area. That might be a three mile radius in a suburban area or a forty mile radius in a rural area. You have maybe 25 youth in your troop. You know a couple of dozen good camping areas within an hour's drive, plus plenty of hiking and cycling trails, parks, lakes, natural areas, and other interesting places to go. You're acquainted with most of the Scout leaders in your area because you get together for a barbecue every quarter, you organize an area camporee every spring, you visit each others' Eagle Scout Courts of Honor, and
  16. As Maxwell Smart would say, "Missed it by that much." 😄
  17. Unit Commissioners cannot escape getting entangled in all the administrative tasks, because they are the (only) folks who (theoretically) are in touch with every unit every month. So anytime there is paperwork to be collected from units or some council or district program to be promoted in units, "We'll have the UCs do it."
  18. I'm also seeing more and more Scouters in the official uniform shirt wearing the neckerchief "international Scouting" style, loose over the collar with the ends tied in a friendship knot, rather than under the collar with a neckerchief slide or over a tucked-under collar with a neckerchief slide.
  19. The effort is in the looking and asking around and just talking to folks to find people with skills, experience, and other resources. The skill is picking the right ones to recruit and getting them interested.
  20. So, keeping with the theme of what systemic changes could be made to the district structure and operations to make it more effective, just a few thoughts: The district organizational structure should be adjusted to be more focused and able to operate with fewer people (including no district-level professional): A dedicated fundraising team reporting to the council Finance Committee and handling FOS, popcorn, and special fundraising events. A dedicated marketing and communications team reporting to the council Marketing and Communications Committee and handling local Sc
  21. Non-Scout people go outdoors to be active -- to hike, to hunt, to fish, to explore the landscape, to take photographs, to find and learn about the vegetation and the animals. All too often, Scouts go outdoors to be largely inactive in the open air (unless they have cabins or pavilions). They may do a hike or activity (geared to the younger Scouts) for a few hours during a weekend, but they spend a lot of time in their campsites working on advancement requirements, sitting by campfires, having Scoutmaster conferences (and even Boards of Review), laying in their tents or hammocks with their ph
  22. How about a variant of the thriftiness concept: A Scout is Resourceful. Scouts look for ways to use, re-use, repair, and alter materials and equipment already available in order to meet their needs and become handy with tools and craft skills. They identify fun and interesting low-cost or no-cost events and activities in the local area. They research nearby trails, campgrounds, scenic locations, wilderness areas, parks, lakes, rivers, and nature preserves to find free or inexpensive destinations for hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities. They seek out experts from area schools, mu
  23. Districts have two primary functions, which in turn generate a variety of specific district activities: 1. Raise the district's share of the council operating budget. - Friends of Scouting - District special fundraising events (golf tournaments, award dinners) - Promote council-sponsored unit fundraisers, such as popcorn (council gets a cut) - Promote council camps and council special events (registration and participation fees) - Ensure that district events have revenue in excess of expenses (surplus goes to council) 2. I
  24. Even just looking the "business model" for Scouting at the unit level, the prevailing methods for pack and troop operations are expensive: uniforms and handbooks for everyone, summer camps, rental of campgrounds and event areas, awards (pins, badges, loops), modern tents and other personal and unit camping equipment, merit badge clinics, shiny metal pinewood derby tracks with electronic timing devices, etc. It's not that it is deliberate, it is just that they are doing Scouting the way everybody does it. It's what they see in Boys' Life and Scouting magazines and at camporees, and what they
  25. Oh, I believe that Scouts change the world. Usually not by big dramatic actions (though we did have a bit of a heyday with that space program thing back in the 60s), but little bit by little bit over months and years and decades. If only one percent of Scouts currently in the program take the Scout Oath and Scout Law to heart, that's 20,000 American youth who will grow up opening doors for people carrying packages, and standing at attention when the Star-Spangled Banner is played at ball games, and contributing to flood relief, and doing CPR when a stranger collapses on the street, and votin
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