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"You can't be quality every year."

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For only the second time since I have been a member of the key3,we are not going to be a quality district.

While we managed to meet all the other goals we will not meet the membership goal.

While I am not crying myself to sleep at night. I do have to admit to not being very happy about this.

While pointing fingers would be easy.It is a waste of time. However there is a need to look at why we didn't meet the goal.

As is well known our Council is blessed with a Field Director that I don't like and consider to be a first class twit. I would guess that he might be a little bit more charitable when he describes me. He is the advisor to the membership committee.

It would be great to lay all the blame on him. Sadly I can't do that.

Yes he made some errors and didn't do things the "Eamonn Way". A way which might have worked but we will never know.

The real truth is that as of this minute we are down 86 Cub Scouts and one unit.

While the Field Director is still giving the old "Rah-rah" speech and is at long last rechecking names on lists for members who may not be in the system. We in the field know that we are just not going to make it. We are just too far away to make it.

Many would look at me and say "Oh ye of little faith."

We have not given up on recruiting. In fact at the District meeting last night the membership chair vowed that he would visit all the schools in the District and ensure that every boy had a letter and an application form.

Looking ahead to next year.

We need to make sure that before a boy or girl is removed from a charter that each of them is contacted. How often we forget that retention is as big a part of membership as recruiting is.

We need to look at each and every District Event as a recruiting event, with all the resources of marketing and unit building put into place.

I have to admit to feeling like a bit of a cad.

I do have everything in place for the needed new unit.

It is a Venture Crew which will be chartered by the church that I belong to.

The Field Director knows that I have this unit and is pushing me to "bring it in."

From the Commissioners report it looks that we will not have any units that will drop next year.

If I sit on this unit until January we will have met that goal from the get go.As I say I know in my heart of hearts that this is not the way to play the game.

There is a group of people that knowing how much not making Quality really does pee me off are telling me that "You can't be quality every year." This group includes ex-council presidents, Regional type people(Whatever that might mean!) and a couple of pros.

Never the less I do feel that after all the hard work that went into the other goals, that it is a shame that we will not make the big one and maybe I have let these people down.

Kind words are nice and are appreciated. Still having made it would be a lot nicer.


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I know a thing or two about not making quality (insert leve/type of Scouting organization). In my case it is Quality Lodge. Though I was in the good position of having publicly written it off as a goal before the year even started. That doesn't help the fact that we didn't make it and I know we could have if we had done some things differently.


Oh, I am sure someone will wonder why I wrote off quality lodge. Before I took office I had spent too much time listening to other officers/advisors talking about what had to be done to make quality lodge like it was the holy grail or some such thing. I decided we needed to focus on what we wanted to accomplish, not on some set of criteria from nationals. In the end I realised we would have been better off paying more attention to those criteria, because they are pretty good measures of the quality of the program. I guess I was far too optimistic. I thought if we took "make Quality Lodge" off the list of goals for the year we would still be able to do it if we focused on the program areas that we felt needed improvement. I think if I had it to do over again I wouldn't have used the traditional "make Quality Lodge" goal that everyone before me seemed to. Instead, I would have paid close attention to the criteria while setting goals and choosing the areas to focus on for the year. Guidelines for awards are not autimatically some evil, artificial, program detracting set of criteria. Just remember that the focus is on delivering quality program, based on the situation and needs in your case. Though the quality X criteria are often a good guide for figuring out what it takes to deliver that quality program.

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There is an impotant difference between Eamonn's message and Proud Eagle's. Eamonn realizes that he will not recieve the Quality District recognition because the district did not make it's goals. Proud Eagle did not set The Quality Lodge recognition as a goal. Good, because the recognition is not meant to be a goal. It is the recognition for achieving goals that national recognizes as benchmarks in a healthy program, be it a unit, District, Council or Lodge.


You are not supposed to set the recognition as a goal. You are to set the achievement of the various challenges as goals, and the recognition comes if you meet all the challenges.


The Quality _______ Recognitions are an impotant balance of elements that tell you and national if scouting is healthy in your community. You cannot for instance focus soley on program and decide you have a healthy program if you do not have the funds to keep the service center operating, or maintain rank awards in stock. If you have done a great job fundraising but you didn't recruit new members you do not have a healthy program. If boys are joining but not getting a good program due to untrained leaders, then membership and financial support will soon fall.


Achieving the elements needed to recieve the Quality Unit, District, Council or whatever recognition is an imortant health check that everyone on the support level of scouting from the unit down must take seriously.


Eamonn, I know the feeling of disappointment you have. Our District has had times when we did not meet our goals either. But, thanks to the benchmarks used to determine the award, at least you can see why. You know where you District has a chink in its armor and you can now make plans to improve. Remember this was not your fault. The District is a team effort. No one person achieves or loses this recognition. Everyone gets it or everyone is responsible for not getting it. Rally the team, plan and achieve. I have no doubt the District will be stronger this coming year.


Bob White

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I think you've both been around long enough to know that I was going to weigh in on this thread when you posted.


I know Eamonn didnt' expect to hear from me "You can't make Quality every year." I won't disappoint him. I don't agree with the statement.


Now, if you were expecting me to kick your heads in, you will be disappointed.


I'm not going to rah-rah.


First of all, Eamonn, don't give up on the Quality district quite yet. 86 Cub Scouts and one unit -- sounds like a lot, and perhaps it is. I'm glad to hear that your district is continuing to bring in new members. In a council your size, giving up now on the part of your district may well sink Quality Council for the year.


However, have you considered how many total traditional youth you need for Quality. There are two ways to meet the membership requirement -- one is to have a gain of 1 in each program -- Cub Scouting, Boy Scouts/Varsity Scouts, Venturers. The other is to have a gain of 2% in total traditional members.


The Crew you're holding back, I'll get to that in a moment, how many youth does it have? If it's your church youth group, it could contain half or more of the members you need for Quality District as well as being the last unit you need.


I'm glad you admit that holding back the unit (that sounds like it's formed and ready to start) is wrong in your heart of hearts. I believe that it is wrong. It's been done, but that doesn't make it morally straight. Some would call that a numbers game.


There are 39 days remaining in the year. Some will be knocked out due to holiday festivities. Some will be knocked out because those of less resolve decide to have "weekends off." Whatever that means.


I'm of the belief that a lot can happen in 20 days, or 30 days, or even 39 days.


I'm not on a high horse -- I have missed Quality District and Quality Council. I've made it (when I say I, I mean the personal record of groups with which I've been involved) 12 of 15 years. The only years the box wasn't checked on my summary of professional performance were the years I came into that position in mid-year and the important stuff had already been set up. I don't buy that you can't be quality every year.


Now, to the next guy, Proud Eagle:


Proud Eagle, I'm glad you learned a good lesson from what you posted. I've worked with a few district chairmen who felt that National was all wet in their quality standards and that, as long as the district focused on his/her priorities all would be well. Invariably, the program suffered from that vision. Those who had the quality standards as their standards and their vision as growth beyond the national requirements did very well and the program thrived.


This year isn't over yet. The night is always darkest before the dawn. The dawn is around the corner. However, there is still time to make Quality.


Also, for the past 5 years or so, December has had 35-40 days :)



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When I referred to the two posters, I didn't realize that Bob White was a few minutes ahead of me when he pressed submit.


Doesn't change either answer, I suspect.


No, the world doesn't end when a district misses Quality status. However, as Bob points out, there's a chink in the armor of the group effort and some element of the future of the program will suffer unless a change in business habits occurs quickly.


Fall short in funding and the program will suffer. Fall short in membership and the program will suffer. Have a loss in commissioner ratio and the program will suffer.


By program, I mean unit program, which is where the rubber meets the road for the youth we serve. I'm not referring to the camporee -- which is a supplement to unit program.



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If New Year's falls on or near a weekend, national has been known to extend the membership deadline to accomadate business received after the weekend. Sometimes this leads to the close of membership on January 3,4,5, etc.


Some of us jokingly refer to January 5th as being December 36th.


In case someone hasn't noticed, things in the Boy Scouts of America dno't always move as quickly as we would like.



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You of course knew that I have checked out all the ways of reaching QD.

In fact while we didn't "Need" it last year we could have made it on the 2% in Cub Scouts. It seems ironic what was our strength last year has come back to bite us in the tail.

Yes there have been years in the past when we were only a few Lads shy and I have been out knocking on doors with applications in hand on December 34th.

I have never been an officer in the OA. So I have real knowledge of the workings of Quality Lodge. However our Lodge didn't make it last year something to do with not enough Brotherhood members. At the time OJ was the Brotherhood Chairman. Needless to say he was not a happy camper.

As I say I am not up on the workings of the Lodge. It does seem to me that the pressure and demands of the goal are a little bit much for a youth member.

There are those who will look at the goal and say that it is just a gobbledygook goal set by national.

I don't think so.

When I look at what a District is to do and the standards that are too be met. It is a good goal.

I sure as heck don't need another plaque. I happen to think that they are a waste of time, But that is just me.

I get really upset when people tell me that I am only interested in numbers.

Yes I am interested in numbers. Every number in the membership total is a youth who will benefit from the program.

Every dollar is there to improve the program. You can bet that when the Scout Exec. presented the budget to the board it wasn't a rubber stamp approval. It was scrutinized and really put under the microscope. We work way too hard to bring some of that money in. We are very careful about how it will be spent.

As Bob White says there is a "Chink".

Sad thing is that there is not a lot of time to get it worked out.

The quest for QD. 2004 starts or in fact has started with the Rechartering Packets.

It is all too easy to just strike a name off the charter. With no investigation or inquiry.

Having been a unit leader, I know that at times all I seen was the money that I was saving. I wanted to get the charter done- Over- Out of my face.

Still how Lads did I just write off? How many might have come back if I had just picked up the phone?

Even if it was only one. It was one too many.

Would things have been different if the Unit Commissioner had taken the time to go over the charter member by member? Or were we just trying to make sure that the numbers jived and all the signatures were in the right place?

Dave, as you know this is the last year for the 2%. In 2004 we have to make it by the +1.

We could I suppose spent many happy hours working out a formula that might be a little more fair. But for now we have what is in place.

From the reports that I have seen membership has taken a hit all over the country. I have heard that we may be as many as 100,000 down. Mainly in the Cub Scout program. So far the only explanation that I have been given is the increase in the membership fee.

Which I don't see as a real reason.

Still this is for others to worry about.

Right now I would like to see that number come down to 99,914.


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You're a good man, Eamonn. Actually, an exceptional man. Keep doing what you're doing.


You're right about membership being down across the country. I jsut got my ProSpeak and looked at the national membership numbers as of 10/31/2003. We were down in every category. This is the first time in my career that I've seen the membership numbers down in every category including Learning for Life.


I know that you and your fellow volunteers and professionals have turned over every rock, tree, bush and school to hit the membership goal. That's the kind of guy you are. Keep doing what you can to help the cause -- one boy at a time.


I also agree with you on the rechartering, and, in fact, just wrote a column for our council newsletter echoing what you said. Before unit leaders cross someone off a charter, they should make every attempt to keep the boy in the program.


I also understand OJ's disappointment that the lodge did not make Honor Lodge status. The hardest requirement for Honor Lodge is the percentage of people who take Brotherhood. I can understand the requirement -- Brotherhood is the "sealing" of membership (symbolized by two bars on the sash, one above and one below, the arrow.) The number of dues paying members is one measurement, but the committment to seal the membership by taking Brotherhood is also an important component to having a quality OA program.


Good luck in 2004.



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It may not be possible to make Quality District or Quality Council every year, but you can come close. We likely will miss Quality Council this year because of finance. We have lost over 10% of our council budget from foundations who say "We love you guys dearly, but because of our investments, we just don't have any money." We have been a Quality Council the last 5 or 6 straight years.


My Scout Exec and I joke about winning the "most improvement" award every other year.


Actually, there is a problem with the way that Quality Council membership figures are handled. Since the standards are based on the previous year, one is motivated to get just enough membership to meet the standard. Otherwise, if you have a great year this year, NEXT year, you have a much higher bar to jump over.


This is a VERY difficult year for membership nationally and in most councils so don't feel alone in being in a tough position.

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Thanks Dave.

As you may know I do not have a lot of time for the Learning For Life program.

Well that might not be true?

It might be a great program. It just is not the program that I'm in and I would much sooner not have my donation to our council used for it.

To make matters worse due to a stale mate with the state budget many of the schools were going to drop the program.

At our last board meeting we spent $5000.00 to keep it going.

Needless to say I voted against it. But was outvoted.

I will abide with the vote. Mainly because it is a done deal. But it irks me that we will go out and ask for FOS donations telling everyone about our values and then spend the monry on a program that does not follow the Scout Law and Oath.

I don't know about Denmark but something is rotten somewhere.

There is a letter floating around from Roy L. Williams that asks councils to have more integrity when setting membership goals.

I do have to feel bad for Roy. All the work that went into the new unit drive this past Feb. And then to see membership take such a hit.


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Learning for Life, as you point out, Eamonn, does have a different set of values. This last membership report from national is the first time I have seen the Learning for Life numbers down since it's inception.


I feel bad for Roy Williams as well. Being the Chief Scout Executive during today's times can't be much fun.



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Our district has experienced a significant drop in new cub scouts, and I hear that our council as well has lower numbers. I work with a fellow Scouter from a different region and he says their numbers are low also. I wonder if this is problematic nationwide?


Is this drop due to people marrying later in life thus fewer cub aged boys? Or just a decline in population due to the Baby-boomers moving on? How will this effect the Boy Scout program in a few years?


If there is a drop in population of cub aged boys will National relax the requirements for QU, QD, and QC?


Just curious..




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I think we are all mature enough and have the integrity to understand what is meant by "you can't be quality every year" without using that as an excuse not to do our best. A good leader needs to know when to let the team off the hook. If you've given it you best and still come up short, a tactical retreat may be the best plan. Live to fight another day, and all that....


I had written a long post basically carping about how the goals are set, but what it comes down to is that as long as the quality district/council goals are strictly numerical members, money and units, we will be focused on the numbers game. (I know there are more requirements than just those three, including a percentage of Quality Units, but anyone involved in district or council-level administration knows those are the big three.)


I have a modest proposal I think will change the emphasis of how districts operate: only count membership and units if they are still registered/active for one year.


Two big changes: for both units and members, retention becomes important. For unit recruitment, the quality and commitment of the units becomes important as does training and follow-up to ensure that units suceed.


I see problems in both these areas in our district, especially with units -- anyone who can scrape together five boys, the minimal leadership and twenty bucks has a unit. Beyond that, it is generally sink or swim. Scout retention is totally up to the units, with no support or training to help units retain Scouts. We can and should do better.

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"Beyond that, it is generally sink or swim. Scout retention is totally up to the units, with no support or training to help units retain Scouts."


I cannot agree with that at all. There is all kinds of support to keep units going whether new or established. Council and district committees exist just for that.


Roundtable, pow wow, University of scouting, Commissioner service, Training, Popcorn, Activities, Newsletters, Scouting magazine, FOS, Just to name of few of the things organized and supplied by council and district support all to keep units going.


And let's not forget the scouting program itself and all the program resources; How to Book, Program Helps, Den and Pack Ceremonies, Troop resource book, Troop Program Books. All there to help you provide an age appropriate, hands on, active unit program to keep the scouts comming back week after week, year after year.


To say that a unit is on its own, simply has no basis in fact. A unit whose leadership does not utilize all the support and resources of scouting has not been abandoned, it chose to run away!


Bob White

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