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Yet Another Pet Peeve

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At times this Scout is cheerful law is a real pain. Just when everything is plodding along nicely some nit wit has to come along and spoil things and the seeds of a peeve are planted.

Please forgive me for venting here, but I am at great risk of being very rude to certain groups if and when?? I meet them face to face.

My latest pet peeve is people who may have the best intentions taking ownership of stuff that they don't own and people allowing it to happen.

So far this week this has come up more then once.

I was at a meeting this week to discuss the Food Service at Summer Camp. We are looking at bringing in an outside food service company. Things were moving along nicely we looked at summer camp and the parent son weekends. Then we got to the OA weekends. It just so happens that the chap who has been the head of the kitchen for the past two summer camps (and gone way over budget.) Is also the chap who cooks for the OA week ends. When I suggested that we have the food service company cook for the OA weekends. I was informed that we couldn't do that as it was "So And So's Kitchen".

Later at another meeting we were talking about buying new Lawn mowers for camp. It turns out that we have a stack of the things "Hidden". So and So hides them so they won't get broken. We needed them last summer but he wouldn't let go of his store of Council Lawn Mowers.

On a tour of the camp we found places that were locked and were told this was so and so's store. When I asked what was in there the range of hidden goods that the council had paid for and some well meaning so and so had locked away ran from electrical equipment to oar-locks.

This sort of thing really does get to me.

That along with people who make a big deal about donating something but never let go of it.

Ok I'm done.



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It sounds like we are in the same council!

I have seen many volunteers give up because of issue like the ones you posted. When I hear someone complaining about not enough volunteers. I usually tell them, if you want more help, let them help, and help does not mean doing it your way.

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Sounds like my council also. Last year we had very bad food (worse i can remember) Food company deleivered meat left it ourside during 2nd week.....the cook wasn't there and all that meat spoiled. He did a very bad job with the food and the next week was fired. Our council raised camping prices $20 we werwen't ahppy about it. Now thered oing other stuff, axed someone for no reason. Right now Our troop and pack and a LOT of others are tired of our scout excutive and we will be sending some sort of petition of sometime with many signautres down to national asking for his removal. Thats how bad its gotten. THey axed the wrong person which is starting a chain effect.

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Ownership has a mixture of personal pride and job security intertwined, which is important for the group as a whole to reach some large goals.


As a volunteer in a large council, I found that there were always frustrations because the operation and the management did not change quickly and for many good reasons. Sometimes, I focused on the problems to the exclusion of a good program. It is hard to ignore some things because those are the very items that I felt like I needed.


What I found was that making connections and friendships with individuals within each area and to find out their viewpoint was best. We work as a large disconnected group with many different interests and needs. Even though we are volunteers, we are viewed somewhat like outsiders with little knowledge of the immediate problems and the past attempts at change. Sometimes, people have rushed in to change things without asking permission and a person's paid job was threatened and many times not for the best.


Getting to know individuals and to begin to know how to access certain services or how to bring about changes takes a longer time. The people that are paid for administering services when respected and given room to operate within their perceived boundaries of achieving their duties is somewhat awkward but will begin a process that can be built upon, which is trust.


But in the meantime, when a problem is found to interfere with a program, the focus could be on the alternative plans and the resources. I submit to you that frustration need not be the key to making a decision on continuing in Scouting. It should be a time to enjoy the many friendships and to build upon the change that can and will happen in the future.




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Sounds a lot like a camp ranger we used to have, he would also schedule groups off the council books to stay at the camp and pocket the cash. He pulled that off for five years i think.

Youve got to love it when council starts axing the innocent. Two years in a row this has happened at my camp, the first time if the Camp Director (the axed one) hadnt begged us to stay, the entire senior staff would have walked. The second time they refused to fire a senior staffer who was in constant violation of BSA policy on a firing range, but instead fired one of the senior staffers whos father went to the Council Executive about the issue. In regards to the food service for the OA, several OA events are only open to members and, at least in my lodge, being the head cook for the lodge is a very honored position, one that only the best hold. Which could be why there is resistance to privately contracting out food service.(This message has been edited by Sturgen)

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Fuzzy Bear

This is the first post that you have posted that I disagree with! I do really enjoy your posts. But with this one it seems to me that you are saying turn the other cheek and work with or around the issues. As volunteers we should not have to do that because someone thinks it's so and so kitchen. Or that when someone says that is the way we have all which done it. That we should just do along our merry way. This gets pretty frustration after a few years.


JimmyD and Sturgen

Wow your issues makes my issue seem small! Which just does to show you, it could all which be worse!(This message has been edited by dan)

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Eamonn -- be glad it's only mowers and kitchen equipment they're hoarding. We've got people who treat whole parts of the program that way.


On the other hand, here's the flip side of folks locking stuff away is. Because our day camp is held at a local park not at the council camp, we are on the B list when it comes to using council-owned equipment. Several years ago we bought a fair bit of equipment out of our camp budget. But because the purchases went through the council and would up on the council's inventory, we were required to turn it all back in to the council at the end of camp. Of course the next year, half of the stuff had been lost/stolen/distroyed and the other half had been absorbed back into the council's general inventory. We were back on the waiting list to use stuff we had paid for a year earlier.


So now we treat much of the camp equipment the way your guys do. Some things are purchased and stored by various units. Or we try to keep things below the council's radar so that we don't have to turn it. I'm sure the bean counters would have spasms that there is no accountability for the equipment. But what's the worst thing that could happen? It gets lost/stolen/distroyed here instead of at the council's warehouse.

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Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post. I am also glad to know that you like reading some of the other things that I write.


As for disagreement, please don't think that I believe that I am always correct. I have been wrong on many occasions and can stand to be corrected on most. I'm not really sure that I have ever been right about anything that I have written here though. I would be astounded to find two response posts congratulating me on the way that I totally answered a question to the satisfaction of those asking and those yet to respond. I don't believe that I can expect that happening until Halley's Comet returns.


You are right that I am saying to turn the other cheek and work with people. Change is slow some times and the relationships that we make, the people that we come to know and appreciate may change what we are asking for and may give us new insight. I am also saying that as we work for change ands don't quit. You are important and the things you are wanting may be the right answer in the future.


I am asking this because I have already tried it the other way and I am now apologetic for my actions. I also spent allot of time griping and complaining about problems which did not work to fix things.


When I stopped, I did so not out of wisdom but because things had changed drastically for me in my personal life, I saw a different way of doing things. I began doing things that excluded the baggage and I enjoyed the program better than ever.


The program is multifaceted and our focus can be the agent that directs us to the specific needs where we have the immediate answer for making those changes and gaining respect for our work.


Once again, others may have a better answer, it just happens to be the one I am stuck with for awhile.





(This message has been edited by Fuzzy Bear)

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I for one am all in favor of everything that can be done in house, being done in house. If running food services for summer resident camp is something that can't be done in house, then it is necessary, not preferable, but necessary, to find outside assistance. There are also times that economics can make contracting with outside providers more cost affective. However, keep in mind there are costs not found on the accountants ledger that come with buying outside services. You will be giving up a measure of independence and loosing some control to your new partners. There is a danger that in time your new found partner may be dictating terms to you because your own ability to do the job atrophied from disuse.



I feel I know a little about this subject because last spring my lodge (no I don't own it, but I am a member and was the Lodge Chief for a year, so I feel I have as much of a stake in it as anyone) hosted the section conclave. This event attracts about 700 Scouts from 9 lodges. Unfortunately we are not one of the larger lodges, nor are we one of the more resource rich councils. We soon discovered that while it would be possible to host the conclave at either of our council camps, neither had the facilities necessary for conclave to be a true success. (One has the space needed, while the other has the modern facilities needed, rather unfortunate combination.) That left us in the position of looking for a third option. That option was found in conference/convention center located at a regional fair grounds. Those facilities were far from perfect, but they came closer than our camps and it was at a price we could pay. (We did however end up a couple thousand dollars on facilities that could have gone to program, or that could have been invested in improving our camp facilities.)



Then there was the food service issue. The facilities available were capable of being used to produce meals, however we found several problems I won't detail here. In the end a catering company was employed to provide most of the food for several meals. The costs were kept down by having the company deliver the food in sort of a bulk arrangement and then doing final preparation, serving, and/or repackaging with our own staff on-site. Also, certain portions of the menu were prepared on-site using our own staff. In the end this enabled us to serve menu items that could not easily be prepared on-site, while still making full use of our own recourses.



What I am trying to suggest is, there is a time and a place for outsourcing within Scouting, but it should only be looked to after carefully evaluation of available recourses. If available recourses can not provide what is needed the first option should be to increase the quality or quantity of available recourses, the second option should be using internal recourses supplemented by external ones when required, and the third option should be making exclusive use of external recourses. Perhaps the conclave requires the assistance of a caterer, the summer camp a food services company, but the JLTC, Wood badge, and lodge functions can all still be handled with available recourses.



[N.B. It is generally the case that kitchen staff at summer camps are paid. Therefore there are labor costs if done in-house or outsourced. However, it would be extremely unusual for the staff at OA events to be paid. Therefore replacing volunteer workers with paid employees of the contractor is a potential source of increased cost. Unfortunately inept volunteers can be just as dangerous to the budget as a contractor. (Locally we are fortunate to have many experienced cooks in our midst. We also have others with less experience willing to plan carefully, think clearly, and use common sense to achieve good results. I personally have had the experienc of being head cook, menu planner, and chief shopper for an OA fellowship weekend attended by 90 people. I will admit that it was quite a challenge. It had me seriously stressed for a while, but it all worked out in the end. We ended up just a bit over budget, but people still remember things we did such as an Italian theme dinner, complete with decorations and music. Now if a high school student with no food service experience can pull that off with the assistance of only those Arrowmen in his own small home town, then others with greater expereince and more recources can do that and far more.)]



The second issue brought up was the co-opting of council property by various individuals. This seems to be a very tricky issue. Council property should be clearly defined as such. There should be no confusion by anyone as to what is owned by the council and what is owned by individuals. I know we had some misunderstanding about ceremonial supplies within our lodge. Some people made personal property available and it was mixed in with lodge supplies, and over time no one remembered exactly what was what anymore.



If on the other hand the handicraft director at the camp is taking home all the tools for "safe keeping" over the summer you have potential for the exact opposite situation to occur. There may be cases where placing council property into the care of an individual makes sense (specialized equipment requiring special care and maintenance), however it is not a good idea in most cases. In all cases there should be careful tracking of the custody of all property, weather owned by or on loan to the council. Receipts should be used when property is transferred (even if just for "safe keeping"), inventories should be made, and other measures should be used to ensure that there is no confusion as to what is and isn't council property and who is responsible for that property. (This need not be in the form of overly complicated legal forms that would withstand a legion of lawyers (though that would be advisable for major items), but rather it would be better to have simple, easy to use measures.)



Now I must point out a few cases where the co-opting of council property may not be such a bad idea, at least from the point of view of the co-opter. If you are the rifle instructor every year at camp, it is in your interests and the camps to make certain the rifles are in good condition. Therefore, it may be decided that they should be locked up so that only you may access them. That could present a problem if some unit wishes to use the range and weapons on their own, but that would be a rare and easily solved problem. (Have the ranger keep a key and require the rifle instructor be contacted ahead of time regarding specific instructions on care, use, cleaning, etc.) Perhaps the astronomy instructor wishes to keep the camp telescope in working condition after discovering that during weekend use it was poorly cared for. Or the ecology director wants to keep the collection of mounted butterflies from becoming a less complete collection.



The key things seem to me to be:

1. Ensuring that council and personal property are distinguishable.

2. Maintaining a "chain of custody" for property so that someone is always responsible for it.

3. Keeping inventories that allow easy determination of the availability or recourses.

4. Balancing the need to maintain and safe guard equipment with the need to make it available to those with the ability to use it properly.

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