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jkhny

What's happening to BSA - who's in charge

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Sorry about the France thing, but I couldnt resist. We know so little about jhkny and when he said France was so great, I had to respond. Lets continue on topic.

 

The issue I see is that WE the volunteers are supposed to be in charge but many times that role is abdicated and chaos ensues and then the profesionals take over. Look at Lisabob's training session, a horror story if I ever heard one and anyone who doesnt want to go to training can use it as an excuse, Eagle in Kentucky's story is also not outsode the realm of ordinary. We talk alot about having people who seek help here to contact their unit or district commissioner only to hear how dysfunctional that whole system is.

 

When I travel I meet lots of people and eventually Boy Scouts comes up, if I have anything to do with it and Voila, I can tell you that each person's exeperience is totally different, depending on who was running the unit, the competency factor, etc. I had a great experience as a youth, many I met didnt. I can see that council experience is the same. A District or COuncil will be as functional or dysfunctional as the volunteers make it. And then they shouldnt be surprised when the Pros take over.

 

What was it that Pogo said? We have met the enemy and they is us

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As our DE told us..."when we bash "Council" we are talking about ourselves." Someone recently referred to "p--- poor camporees". Well, who should run them, then? If the volunteers aren't delivering a quality program at the District and Unit levels, who do we have left to blame? Do I think there's too much emphasis on funds and numbers? Yes. Do I have a better solution? No. A Council is a business which markets and distributes a product. We, the volunteers are charged with making that product as desirable as possible to as many boys as possible.

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What good are those councils and professionals? Hmmmm, let me see. You are welcome to view my council's Events page at http://www.lastfrontiercouncil.org/program_information.htm. It lists tons of fun and educational things that are coordinated at the council level and available to all scouts. It of course is in addition to what happens at the district and unit levels. Then you can visit our Camps and Properties page at http://www.lastfrontiercouncil.org/camps.htm to learn about the council's six properties where day camps, summer camp and unit camping is provided year round. Don't forget to stop by our Training Opportunities page at http://www.lastfrontiercouncil.org/training-dates.htm to see all of the district and council training available. Listed there you will see our twice a year Wood Badge offerings where our "evil" and "wealthy" SE will come and do one of the presentations. You can drop by here http://www.lastfrontiercouncil.org/scout-executive-0406.htm to read his monthly column which usually has stories relating to his scouting days. I've seen him out and about at the annual Wood Badge Reunion, camporees and roundtables. Considering that his council is 11 districts in 24 counties that cover a little more than the SW corner of the state of Oklahoma, I really appreciate that he makes an effort to come see us "little people" when he could be home in his mansion or hob-nobbing with the fat cats.

 

I guess my biggest gripe is that when I was an ASM for one of our council contingent troops for Jamboree last year, the council was pinching pennies and asked us to call or e-mail people who were late making payments instead of spending the postage to send them a reminder. I'm sure the SE was paying his country club fees with the funds!!!

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What does your SE think of Sunny Florida? It's really nice here. If not him personally, does anybody he has trained wanna come? Please... We really don't think ALL SE's are evil. Heck, I wouldn't dare to speak for anybody except my own. But mine nor any of the other top brass does any of that around here. I've got a great DE for now, but the SE kept firing and not replacing DE's for YEARS. I hope we can keep this one.

 

We do fall short on FOS funds, but we'd need to keep a DE for more than a year to get the pipeline going. Hopefully we get to keep this DE and things will work out.

 

I had a boss that kept firing the sales staff after about 8 months in a business that took 8 months to get the sales pipeline going. We never sold much.... Kinda the same with the DE's. Our current DE balances the having a quality program with paying for the program, but the SE thinks he shoud ONLY worry about FOS and not quality. The quality of the program and the funding are wrapped up together. Can't do one without the other. SE does not understand.

 

Sounds like yours earns his keep. If mine did what yours does I'd love him too.

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mgkaiser,

 

Sorry, we'd like to keep him for a while. I'll let you know if he ever becomes available. Allow me to indulge myself and post his latest column from the Council newsletter. It puts a perspective on why (at least some) SE's are concerned about membership.

 

Thomas J. Dugger

Rally Around the Flag

 

As some of you have figured out by now, I am something of a history enthusiast. Or as my father used to call me a 'Shade Tree Historian.' Thats an old Southern expression that means on Sunday afternoons you, and like-hearted fellows, sat around under the shade of a tree and talked for hours about historical events that you had absolutely nothing to do with and could do absolutely nothing about, but thought it was important to go through the process.

 

I have a particular interest in the 18th and midperiod 19th Century American History. I have spent untold hours looking at Military accouterment and impedimenta. Thats two Shade Tree Historian words meaning the stuff that soldiers used. Of particular interest to me has always been regimental flags and battle ribbons. The tradition of these items can be traced back much further back in history than the period which I am interested in, but they seemed to have reached their apex in the mid-period of the 19th Century.

 

So important were regimental and national flags, that the leadership structure of the American Army changed somewhat and regiments began to use senior non-commissioned soldiers to carry these banners and started calling them Color Sergeants. The reason for this was that regiments often formed around their colors. Since the colors were so important to the cohesiveness of the unit, senior reliable soldiers were asked to fill this important function.

 

Loss of the units regimental colors and their national flag could be absolutely devastating. In fact it was so devastating that it could completely demoralize a regiment and cause them to submit to surrender, or perhaps even disbandment, by being combined with another regiment. When one Army would surrender to another Army, disarmament was certainly important. But equally important was the striking of the regimental and national flags of the surrendering military units. Often weapons were destroyed but the flags were taken back to the camp of the victor as a symbol of having vanquished the other side.

 

During the Civil War there was a popular song on the Union side called the "Battle Cry of Freedom." The chorus of the song went "Rally round the Flag boys, lets rally once again, shouting the battle cry of freedom." Needless to say the flags that belonged to a regiment were considered to be of the greatest importance. This was true not only in the American military but in military units around the world and it is a tradition that Baden Powell brought into Scouting when he founded the movement. We can still see this today in the way our Troop flags and Pack flags are adorned with ribbons that recount the accomplishments and achievements of those units.

 

This long introduction leads me to the point that I wanted to share with you this month. Not so long ago one of our District Executives came into our building carrying something and he looked somewhat blue about it. When I saw what he had I went to visit with him about it. It was a Troop flag. This flag was literally laden with ribbons of many council activities and district events that had spanned what appeared to be about 20 years. I asked the District Executive, "Where did you get this?" He told me a story we should all hear.

 

The story went like this. He had noticed a church in his district that did not have a Scouting program. He made an appointment to call on the pastor of that church to make a presentation about Scouting. When he arrived at the appointment he spoke to the pastor of the possibility of starting a Scout Troop. The pastor stopped him in mid sentence and said "Wait a minute. Let me get something for you, you may be able to use this."

 

The pastor went to a storage closet and came back with the flag weve been speaking of. He said "We used to have a Scout Troop here and we just dont have it anymore. Im really not sure why, but anyway here, you might like to give it to someone who could really use it." Needless to say our District Executive was somewhat discouraged that his meeting had not gone so well; however, always believing that things happen for a purpose, I think this was a meeting that was meant to be. The District Executive is still working on this institution, but he did bring the flag back to the office.

 

He let me borrow it for a while and as I looked at it I wondered about all the wonderful Scouting times that had happened around this flag. One ribbon no doubt had been for the Troop performing with a high level of competency at a Camporee. Another ribbon spoke to this unit having reached the Honor Unit Status. No doubt each ribbon on the flag had a story behind it. Yet all those stories related to how, over an extended period of time, the lives of the young men of that church had been shaped by the program we know and love as Scouting.

 

How many times have the Scout oath and Scout law been recited around this flag? How many times had this flag accompanied our national flag in paying respect to our nation? How many times had this flag been dipped at a time of prayer in respect to 'Our Duty to God'? A more pertinent question is how many times had opportunities like this been missed since that flag went into the pastors closet?

 

Last month our council kicked off a new membership growth initiative with a very special meeting called the Membership Summit. This meeting was conceived and chaired by our Council Vice President of Membership, Judge Stephen Friot. I appreciate Judge Friots approach to membership growth in our council because it is from the important perspective

of a Scoutmaster - which he was for many years. Judge Friot, like many of us, believes that membership is the lifeblood of our organization and that it is the highest calling of the mission of the movement.

 

Over 75 Last Frontier Council Scouters must agree with this because they attended the Membership Summit. These Scouters represented all but one district in our council and came from as far away as Altus in the Southwest, Guthrie in the North, Shawnee in the Southeast and Duncan in the South. At the Membership Summit I shared the story of the Troop flag with those present. I wish all of you could have heard the gasp in the room when I got to the part about the pastor going to the closet and coming back with the flag saying, "We used to have a Troop, now we dont. Perhaps you can give this to someone who really needs it." The gasp was audible.

 

I went on to tell the group that over the last several years in the Boy Scouts we have heard a lot about so-called ghost units. I presented to those gathered, the far greater problem in the Boy Scouts of America, and that is the ghost of units. This flag - simply put - was the ghost of a unit. As we look at our initiative to bring better Scouting to more young people, we need to give full attention to the challenge of having Scouting in every community and to offer it in a quality fashion that insures that young people are exposed to the value transfer system of our movement that gives them values to last a lifetime.

 

No group can better perform this responsibility than the 6000+ volunteers that we have in Last Frontier Council - in particular our District Membership Committees. As we look at the next step for our Membership Summit, in order to be truly effective the following things must happen:

 

There must be Membership Summits in each of our districts that will carry the story of positive membership growth to every community across Last Frontier Council. Growth must come from five sources, (1) new units, (2) youth recruitment resulting in additional enrollments, (3) growth from program transition (Tiger to Cub Scout, Cub Scout to Webelos, Webelos to Scout) (4) growth from stopping dropped units from occurring (5) and finally growth from increasing tenure. In other words more youth re-registering at Charter renewal time.

 

All of us bear a part of this responsibility. It is not simply a volunteer function or a professional function. It is not necessarily a district or council function; but it is most certainly the sign of a viable movement. So next time someone says to you it seems that all we care about is numbers, you might consider replying this way. "Yes, we are concerned about numbers because those numbers mean lives that are shaped and influenced by the Scouting movement."

 

Thank you for assisting in bringing better Scouting to more young people.

 

RALLY AROUND THE FLAG!

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SR540Beaver,

Your story about the lost unit is indeed a sad one but what do you say about Councils that punish volunteers for trying to do something about program? You say its up to the volunteers to see that things get done on a council level. Not in Chicago it isnt. Chicago Area Council has almost no Council run program for Scout units. The Council run programs we do have are usually District programs that have been drawn under the Council umbrella so that professionals can tell their bosses that Council is running training, functions and the like. As for numbers representing youth being served I must ask that you define the Scouting movement because in CAC that means LFL more than Traditional scouting. It means Cub Scout Packs more than it means Traditional Scouting units. It means Venturing Crews and Explorer Posts more than it means Traditional Scouting units. The program which started the whole movement is getting the leftovers, when we are lucky, in CAC. As I have said in another thread there has been a systematic dismantling of the volunteer organization in CAC. Im bitter yes, I started in Scouting as Cub in 1957 and have 30 plus years as a registered Scouter. I took time off to get married and have children and didnt want to be registered but inactive. Ive watched Professional after Professional come and go. Ive watched as all of our camps have been sold or in the case of the Forest Preserve camps allowed to fall apart. Ive watched as funds were channeled to pet projects instead of program. The most current devastation began with a new SE who decided to divest CAC of all scout camps and bank the money. The first step was to dismantle the Districts and District Committees by reorganizing and redrawing our Districts. Maybe Atlanta does not look at race but Chicago does. Our Districts are White, Black, or Latino with boundaries so squiggly that its not a doubt how they were drawn. At the same time a Council committee was formed to assess the selling of the camps, surveys were done and camps listed for sale while the official word was No Decision has been made Council program has become none existent and training at Council level is District Hosted training with professional interference. Around here if you complain too loud or attract too much attention you are handed back your $10 and told to go to. Around here it takes a Court Order for the COs to get a voice, volunteers don't stand a chance unless they are "yes" people.

LongHaul

 

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Long Haul -

 

the same applies to Westchester-Putnam, an area with a rich history in Scouting. More than a few 75 year units, surviving IN SPITE of "Council." That word has become an epithet here.

 

We are a once-rich Council that's been looted of its assets. Too many professionals found it easier to sell off property and live off trust funds than do some real work building and increasing support for Scouting. The sad part is that this is an affluent area and there was a natural base of support. The professionals have killed it over the years.

 

Each time an old Council was combined and property sold off, you lost more volunteers and alienated more of your support base. This is one of the most affluent areas in the country and BSA has squandered a dedicated support base. You still have strong financial support in some local communities like Bronxville - but there the community supports units directly and maintains ownership of the local Scout cabin - rightfully not trusting BSA to preserve assets.

 

Look at Greenwich Council in Connecticut - they're remained independent because THEIR Boards have simply refused to allow BSA to do what it wanted to do - merege them away and sell off their facilities. Scouting there is strong and successful with broad support.

 

When you're selling off property over the objections of volunteers every few years, you're driving off your most ardent supporters.

 

We'll be down to TWO facilities from over a dozen when I was a Scout.

One is in the Adirondacks - fine as a High Adventure Camp but as a parent I was appalled to drop a 12 year off there. This was NOTHING like my first summer camp in Scouting.

 

The closer reservation operates under a conservation easement for SWAMPLAND. Its mud, rocks, stagnant lakes and swamps. NO open ground or fields for events. It's pretty pitiful. Nice new cabins - built at more than twice the budgeted cost, more than we sold a whole Camp for 5 years back. Most volunteers felt the money would have been better spent holding onto that facility. It sold for half the expected amount - only $2 million - to a neighbor of the SE at the time. Lots of questions were never answered.

 

Council finances continue to worsen and you can't even get an enrollment number out of Council now. BSA whitewashed on investigating enrollments and only determined that "there is no evidence that BSA-approved procedures are not being followed." Do they think we're stupid? Exec Board reports showed enrollments drastically lower than public numbers...... there's been NOTHING released for months - no more reports at District Meetings.... so....w're not going to notice that there are NO numbers ANYWHERE now?

 

Do they plan on quadrupling LFL to make up the shortfall before releasing counts? At least the charity event run "To Support Handicapped Scouting" isn't the blatant fraud it had been - we haven't had a handicapped Scouting Unit for years and when we did they never got funds from Council. Now they admit it all goes to LFL.

 

OUR "inner city units" finally reappeared again (they went strangely invisible when scandals broke in 2005). Paid staff run them now though one volunteer near by notes that the numbers are pitifully small and questions how real and viable the units really are.

 

Scouting is becoming ALL local..... volunteers focus on their units and ignore District and Council. Even the hand-picked politically vetted people are fed up and walking away. The SE does as he chooses - and ignores everyone. An Executive Board Committee acts in lieu of the full Board - same game CAC played to limit volunteer oversight. All District Chairs were removed from the Executive Board when the SE arrived.... nobody's even SEEN the local Council bylaws since he got here. One Board member said outright - the SE makes his own rules.

 

We tried organizing Chartered Org Reps to vote out leadership - the SE put in quite an effort countering it..... it failed and more people walked away. You have two year Cub Scout Leaders filling District spots because long time Scouters won't have anything to do with Council. More than a few spots are filled on paper only.

 

When even former Board members are expressing their disgust you know something's wrong. But the same things happened in this SE's former Council. He must have friends in high places...... he should've been pushed out long ago for all the damage he's done to Socuting.

 

Most figure we'll be merged out of existence in a few years. Won't be anyone left to object.

 

And the prolem is not changing times or any other excuses - Girl Scouts here has TWICE the membership BSA Scouting programs have. Interesting contrast. The NY Times wrote it up a while ago. Simple explanation though- GSA has had leadership here that cared about Scouting.

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LongHaul and jkhny,

 

Here is the point of my praise for my council. You focus on the negative. Are the examples you site unfortunate? Yes, they are. Are they the norm? No, they are not. You've chosen to view it that way. If you drive down any street, you'll pass ten houses where life is rosy and one house where life is hell. Just because that one house is hell does not make the other ten hell. Does my council have issues? I'm sure they do. Are they bad? Evidently not. If you looked at my council's events page, in truth, many of the things you'll see there are at the district level. Things such as camporees, Webelos Woods, day camp, etc. The council does provide certain trainings such as NYLT, Wood Badge and an annual Pow Wow along with other courses. Each district provides training as well and is noted on the training page. The council offers opportunities for Philmont, Sea Base and Northern Tier. They run the scout shop. Now, what if my council really sucked? Our unit could still function. We do an annual high adventure trip of our own each year. This year is Northern Tier. Last year we had 13 boys from our troop go to Jamboree along with myself and our SM. Two years ago the troop did Philmont. We camp every month, rain or shine. We could order uniform parts thru the internet if needed. While it is nice having a thriving council that provides many services and opportunities, our unit could still thrive without many of those services and opportunities. Scouting ultimately happens at the unit level, regardless of what happens at district and council level. Just keep in mind that what you focus on is not the same thing that everyone else focuses on and your experience is not everyone else's experience. Focus on your unit and you will be much happier.

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The larger point is -

 

YOUR house may be fine but if ther eare serious problems in a house down the block and another one street over ultimately it IS your concern.... do you let the neighborhood get worse and worse?

 

Great if YOUR Council is OK. BUT why are there so many problems in OTHER Councils - SERIOUS Problems - anything but minor, despite how some would try to paint them.

 

BSA National has done a disasterous job running Scouting for YEARS now and have created the conditions that exist in these local Councils.

 

Another pointed out - in WHAT other corporation would management remain intact after so many acts of malfeasance? How many PROFESSIONALS have been FIRED for their bad behavior? Open your eyes. When BSA DEFENDS professionals that lie, break the law, fail to report abuse and more, there is somethign VERY wrong.

 

When volunteers say - they're cooking the books in my Council, BSA should IMMEDIATELY have an INDEPENDENT group conduct an open audit. NO Whitewash, nothing hidden. Instead the SOP is BSA itself "investigates" and says "nothing wrong" - though they don't tell you what they "investigated" - or didn't and even when its clear that there were problems, nobody is ever held accountable - except for some sacrificial DE maybe. NO WAY you can defend Idaho.

 

SO...... when the neighborhood starts going to hell, what do you do?

 

Give up and move? - which MANY have done, given membership numbers. They ARE "voting with their feet"

 

Hole up in your own house, put up a fence and pretend all is well?

 

Try to work together with your neighbors to limit the problems, correct them and make your neighborhood the BETTER place it USED to be?

 

 

 

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NO - jkh, the neighborhood is fine! More than 300 Councils in the BSA - how many problems?? Less than 5%!

 

95% running strong, with Atlanta being the 6th largest in the country.

 

I hope you are not serving as a leader to Scouts now. Your pessimism would be a real downer for the boys.

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Jkhny,

 

This statement contradicts your original post. At first you complain that BSA is becoming more centralized and top-down from National and now youre concerned that volunteers are not paying attention to District & Council.

 

What is your complaint really?? Im sure you have legitimate issues, but constantly focusing on the negatives really puts a drain on me. Often, volunteers quit because of a focus on negativity (jaundiced critical outlook) rather than reinforcing the positive reasons how volunteer work makes a difference in the lives of the boys.

 

Be glad that volunteers primarily focus on their units. The success of the BSA is only as strong as the units. Politics and big salaries aside, strong units are what are needed for the boys and I applaud all adult leaders that un-selfishly focus their energy on their Troops and Packs. If the units fail because of self-serving volunteer adult leaders, then it does not really matter how much the professionals get paid because they will be out of a job anyway.

 

Yours truly,

A happy volunteer Cub leader

 

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http:listserv.tcu.edu/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=ind0201& L=scouts-l&T=0&P=5660

 

1. Who hires the Council Executive?

 

Council Scout Executives ("Council Executives" in smaller ouncils; "Scout Executive" in larger Councils) are hired by direction of the Council's Executive Board, Council President

and Council Commissioner.

 

The Council Scout Executive is chosen from a set of candidates (normally no more than five) presented by the Region as "eligible to serve" in that role. The Council's search committee can select from that list, or find someone else out there who has tenure and is available or willing to relocate to that Council from outside the Region.

 

By "informal personnel policies", an employee in that Council can NOT serve as Council Executive/Scout Executive on a permanent basis. For instance, a longtime Field Director, Program Director, or Associate Scout Executive cannot "bid on" or become the Council's Scout Executive on anything but a TEMPORARY basis. This is a stupid rule, but it's there because otherwise some career Scouters would NEVER leave their Council and would stay in the same place from the time of initial hire as a District or Associate District Executive through the time they become the "big cheese".

 

They NEED to MOVE AROUND, agreed; but there are some EXCELLENT ACEs and Directors of Field Services whom would be GREAT Council Scout Executives IN THAT SAME COUNCIL -- they know the people, the employees, the camping facilities. They know more than the "new guy or gal coming in" in many cases. I hope the BSA "informally" drops that "policy."

 

2. Who blesses the Council Executive?

 

As others have asked for clarification, I don't know exactly what you mean by "bless." It's a personnel decision made just like the head of a corporation selecting an Executive Vice President or a day-to-day center manager. As long as the Council's volunteer selection committee recommends and the full Council Executive Board says "that's our person!", that's all that matters.

 

Naturally, the Region provides the listing of candidates, so if you're asking somehow "does the BSA endorse these people", then the answer is "I guess so, seeing how they provide the list through

the Region."

 

3. Does the National Office have any input, vote or impact on the decision to hire or fire a Council Executive?

 

Yes and No.

 

Yes, the National Office, through the Regional Director and the Director of Membership (who doubles as the Director of Personnel)

does exercise *some input* and impact upon the candidates selected for each vacancy. However, as I mentioned at the top, the Council search committee can ignore the Region's selections and find someone available in other Regions to work there. Each Region can also provide a listing of available candidates as well, if that's what the search committee wants.

 

No, the National Office nor the Region has the ultimate duty of "firing" a Council Scout Executive. They CAN, as what happened in two local Councils, withdraw membership registration from a Council Scout Executive, thereby making him or her ineligible for further service (part of the deal is that the Scout Executive or Council Executive must be a "registered member of the Boy Scouts of America in good standing"; if they aren't they can't serve, can they??). So he becomes an administrator without a title and someone else has to be there to do the administrating, which is what Regions and Areas do in those cases.

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JKHNY's real complaint? The sky is blue! There is water in the ocean!

 

JKHNY has no real complaint! He/she just likes to type!

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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I just couldn't stand this drivel going on without responding:

 

jkhny - your misinformation is so untrue and pathetic. YOU HAVEN"T A CLUE ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE PRESENTING AS FACT!! I have been a professional and now I am volunteer scouter for two decades. If the BSA is so wealthy why have over half the councils either been closed or merged? The facts are that in many areas the BSA has lost funding from the United Way and others because of pro gay groups influencing these organizations by using the ACLU to sue them into compliance. The BSA just did not take a tough enough stance to refute them and show just how much scouting contributes to society as a whole. Now is there corruption at the top levels of the BSA, yes, but it is a very small percentage compared to corporations of the same size. As a former pro scouter I can tell you we were never financially well off, in fact in my council we once calculated that with all the overtime we put in we came out at about 25 cents an hour. My SE made out better but was by no means living a luxurious lifestyle. So don't keep going off half cocked on a subject you obviously know nothing about, one or two cases at National are not typical of the overall organization.

 

The other big reason the BSA has financial woes is that FOS is not what it used to be, membership numbers are down on a national level, many do not support FOS as they should. Its like the guy who goes to church every Sunday and complains that they need to do this and that, but when the collection plate comes around he puts in a one dollar bill and still doesnt understand why things do not change. jkhny you remind me of that guy ready to spout your unfounded complaints, ad naseum, with nothing positive to say about scouting. The National office is far from perfect, but it is a far cry from the picture you present. If you hate scouting so much LEAVE, there are plenty of other organizations out there you can harrass. Please refrain from presenting your gross exaggerations as factual when they are anything but factual.

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Backpacker writes, complaining about inaccuracies:

The facts are that in many areas the BSA has lost funding from the United Way and others because of pro gay groups influencing these organizations by using the ACLU to sue them into compliance.

 

You know, I'd be real interested in finding out any information you have about supposed ACLU lawsuits "suing" organizations to stop them from donating to the BSA. Like, an example.

 

Of course, if you're talking about government funding, the government can't fund religious organizations like the BSA.

 

The BSA just did not take a tough enough stance to refute them and show just how much scouting contributes to society as a whole.

 

What lawsuits are you referring to, specifically?

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