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Annoyed, Vexed and becoming Upset.

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I have served as a District Key 3 person for going on nine years.

Nearly six of these I served as a District Commissioner.

I think the world of our Council Commissioner,he is a super nice Fellow. When it came to rechartering he more than anything didn't want any late charters. He pushed me, I pushed the Assistant District Commissioners, and the Unit Commissioners.

We got the Charters out as quickly as possible. The Unit Commissioner met with the unit leader and names were added and names were taken away. Signatures were got and the unit wrote a check.

Her Who Must Be Obeyed served as a Pack Treasurer up until a couple of years back. Like any good Treasurer she was very careful with the Packs money. She looked at the Charter very carefully making sure everything was in order.

There was no way she was going to spend an extra red cent that didn't have to be spent.

The charter went into the Council service center and was processed.

The Charters along with a copy of the unit membership went to me as District Commissioner, the District Chairman and the Scout Exec. Also got copies. The Charter was presented to the CO, inside was a copy of the membership.

Never once did I see any changes made to a membership list, the names listed when it went in were the same names listed when it came back.

About 3 years back we did start a Scoutreach pack in a low income housing project. Due to the people living there being so transient and the membership going from being very high one month and very low the next month, the pack has five boys on the charter. All are listed as J.Doe. I know that there is only five boys on this charter because I personally pay for the rechartering of this unit out of my pocket.

I watch the district membership numbers like a hawk,I want to know how we are doing in order to make Quality District.

There are no "Ghost Scouts" or "Phantom Units" I can't speak for the rest of the country, but I know the guys in South Western Pennsylvania just wouldn't let it happen.

Sure we are a small District, with just over 1,000 members, but I pride myself on knowing each unit and knowing what is going on in the unit, heck I know most of the kids names.

Sure there have been a couple of guys who have managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the volunteers, but lets not appoint blame where there isn't any. We have over 300 Councils and I have no idea how many Districts, these Councils and Districts are served by good quality volunteers and to say otherwise is plain downright wrong and I look upon it as a smack in the face and an insult.


District Chairman,

Braddock Trail District

Westmoreland Fayette Council

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It is good that you are part of an honest effort at delivering the Scout program to real Scouts. I imagine that most Scouting Councils, D.E.s and Scouters across the Nation do the same. There will always be those that are dishonest and/or ineffective in any business.


I would personally like to see the reporting of specific programs and the numbers instead of numbers connected to types of units alone, (i.e., Boy Scout, Cub, Scout, etc. only). Unit types/numbers give an indication to basic kinds of activity but specific programs align and give analysis to what is happening locally. This is usable information that gives credence to specific programs that can be shared as a resource. It can give historical perspective to what has been done and can begin to predict what needs to be done.


One can always say that what happens in one part of the country will not work in another but the problem comes when the same programs are used continuously without regard to worth in relation to those numbers. I believe that quality program draws more people and with poor programs, people stay away. Quality program works and it is noticeable in most any industry.


One can say that quality program without quality leadership does not work and that is correct but I posit that quality training leads to quality leadership. By knowing types of programs that work and then getting that information to the leaders, it will increase the probability that they will enhance their programs, thus increase the numbers.


By leaving numbers as the only indicator of a D.E's worth, it reduces the chances of that D.E. in achieving something of value. In other words, a person that lacks people skills, is less creative, or does not know the Scouting program well, is left to false reporting. Give a selected person the tools to increase the numbers, then numbers will begin to increase. This will not happen in every case but overall, it will happen.





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Well, I'd say I'd agree with all that, with a couple of additional thoughts.


First, if the compensation for the Scout Professionals is structured in such a way that membership numbers are the overriding factor in their pay, then there is going to be some level of tempting to "play the numbers", and some small number of professionals will take advantage of that. You fix that by either having a rigorous internal auditing procedure, or you change the pay incentives to dis-incent people from doing that. If Scouting intends to portray itself as a squeakly clean organization, then they can't afford to have any hint of scandal associated with it. This would seem to indicate a zero tolerance for any playing with the business side of Scouting, and rock solid verification procedures that will quickly catch any problems, along with policies to correct those situations quickly and effectively.


Second. Training certainly helps, but if a person doesn't have the aptitude to lead, or doesn't have the patience to deal with growing kids, training is only going to help to some extent. No amount of training is going to turn a total introvert into a successful Scout leader. Training can teach you how to run a successful program, but it's not going to change a person's personality. Having said that, there are plenty of ways that people can help out, and not all of them require in depth contact with the Scouts.


I agree that it'd be better if we had more raw numbers to work with (but then, I'm trained as engineer; to paraphrase Will Rogers, "I've never met a number I didn't like" :)); maybe we do and I'm just not aware of where they are. *IF* you can be sure that the numbers are reliable, then they can be used as another tool in identifying successful programs. Their traits can then be studied to see if they are unique to that program, or something that can be moved to other, less successful, programs.


One interesting thing I've been noodling over for some time is the idea that Scouting is losing members, or not getting them in the first place, because there are so many other activities available to boys now. I hear that quite a bit. But, why is that, do you suppose? That is, why is it that boys pick other activities over Scouting? When push comes to shove, why is it that when there's a scheduling conflict, you more often than not see the Scouting activity being pre-empted by a baseball game, or soccer game, or whatever, rather than vice versa? Or, is that just my observations, and other have different experiences? But if it is in general true, what do we do about that?

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Good questions, Prairie Scouter.



The problem of competing activities seems to be bifurcated by income class, from what I see.


In low income areas, I see other organizations, including schools, conducting camping activities and enrichment activities for children. Activities like baseball go on all summer often enough, as a means of keeping children (and perhaps parents) occupied. That tends to preempt the activities of Scouting, especially if you don't know much about Scouting.



At the middle class income levels and above, parents are often paying big bucks for high quality experiences for their children ---music lessons, science camps, children's theater and so on. Parents can keep their children so busy that fitting in Scouts may be difficult to do, if it's desired at all.



Seattle Pioneer

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Perhaps one reason Scouting comes out second in scheduling conflicts is the year-round nature of our program. The boys can always come back to Scouts after their soccer/swimming/football/baseball season is over. (Solution: excellent activities every month that the boys really, really don't want to miss.)


Building on this is the common practice of denying youth "starting positions" on game day if they missed a practice.

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Some scheduling 'looses' are due to our rather slack approach to attendence- most sports require a high percentage of attendence or you don't play or suffer some other penalty. We don't do that (nor do I think we should).


Some is due to novelty. While Scouting is exciting, the 'day to day' stuff can be quite predictable. You can often look at the unit's schedule and figure you can miss certain meetings without great harm to your unit standing, thus a movie or time with friends might easily win out.


Some of it is the family support. If the parent's can't drop our Scouts off, many of them have no way to get here. That may be one of the single biggest changes since the 70's. When I was in Scouts as a youth, we could walk to meetings. Now- I have only met a few Scouts who live in walking distance of the meeting place. For parents, work, babysitting needs, household management, having a life of their own, and other things can conflict.


Sometimes I think our drive to be a low-cost, high-energy, low 'demand' program hurts us in todays society. Maybe if we charged more, people would put more value on it. (I don't want to see that, just thinking out loud!)

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As for inflation of numbers, my own experience is limited to two councils. One did it, one did not, both statements subject to my own limited access and both based on about 4 years ago.


As I said, I'd be willing to bet that it is more likely in a certain group of councils, based on size, location, and the management. I bet there is far less pressure in smaller councils, for example.




We Scouters also need to keep this in perspective. Fight it in your own unit as far as you can, IF it is happening, and realize that it is really up to US to deliver a quality program. The paid folks will screw up once in a while (we do to, but we already knew that!) Sometimes big, usually small. Usually in an effort to do right in some way. That does not change who WE are or what the BSA stands for.


Some of the most respected churches in America have had scandals. Well-run and trusted companies have scandals. There is no reason to assume that we somehow magically staffed the entire organization with people who cannot succumb to the pressures and temptations.


Instead of ignoring the possibility, be thankful it is not happening in your area, and support, if possible, the idea that the BSA should have some checks and balances. If it is squeaky clean, any audiots, etc. would prove it and let us shine. If we are a bit soiled, we can clean it off and get back on track.

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Dear vexed,annoyed and upset Scouter,

You are not the only on who has obsered this practice for thirty years+.I personally brought this up to my council many times without much success. I did not want to present this concern to the media, for it would give a bad name to the organization.

The reason we are losing scouts, it that our methodology of training is way off the mark. Yes, I had the same problems, as other units that conformed 100 % to the principles and methods in running the swcout unit, then I realised that it just did not work. I lost many members, I made a 180 deg. turn about, and then my unit grew to 90 members, and achieved 20+ eagle scouts. When my unit was this big, I had community power, I would get together with coaches of basketball,ping pong, bowling and etc.,negotiated with them, not to have their meetings to conflict with ours and our camping dates. I told them how important it is to have Scouting in our community , and that I could not release my scouts to participate in outside activitities. (We were the ONLY boy scout unit in the neighborhood)I explained to them that a Scout made an oath, and he had to live up to it.(active in Scouting )that was his priority, I asked the coaches if my boys made any promise to them ?.And that is the difference. Majority of them cooperated, and we had a good relationship. Many times, they 've asked us to provide them with a color guard for their opening ceremony. By the way, due to the fact that we had 20 scouts on a waiting list to join, the BSA council forced me to downsize, and they created two more troops in the same area. Then my numbers got reduced, and I did not have that influence over the coaches, and we started to lose our athletic kids to other activities.


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I am curious Jursis as to what specific method or methods of scouting fail to work, and what you have done 180 degerees differently that works better. If there is one troop following the program with 90 boys or three troops following the program with 30 each, what is the difference?


Where in Scouting is the quality of a unit measured in Eagle Scouts? Is Attaining the Eagle Rank the purpose of Scouting?


I think eamonns post speaks to entirely different points then were addressed in your post. If the BSA ever stopped being a business I would expect the Scouting movement in this country to all but collapse. The vast majority of volunteers have no knowledge of what the corporation of scouting does or how it functions. That's Ok though because most professionals have no idea how to operate a scout unit. That's Ok to though because unit operation is not their job.


Scouting will continue to have a membership flow that reflects the quality of the unit's weekly meeting programs. No child even considers whether a Scout executive makes a bad decision, all they care about is the quality of their last meeting and their expectations for the next one. No professional in the BSa has the ability to effect the quality of either.





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Kind of to echo what Bob said.

We had our Executive Board meeting up at camp tonight, the board at with the Scouts all board members sat at different tables and talked to the Scouts, which I thought was nice.

After the meal we had a very long and very tough meeting. Decisions that had been put off, in the hope that the good Scout fairy would work her magic had to be faced.

We found out that our Council along with 28 other Organizations were being de-funded by the United Way over the next 3 years, the budget that was passed in January did include a $100,000 deficit!! Our Dinners are down $20,000 add in the $26,000 cut this year from the United Way and it was doom and gloom all around.

Ideas were voiced, discussions became heated, people got hot under the collar. Cuts were made and prices increased.Ideas of how to raise more money, without hurting programs were explored.

When it was over the Scouts were still camping having a wonderful time. Neither them or their leaders have any idea.

Just like my son has no idea of what I have to spend each year to keep him fed, housed and happy.


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If the people at the top of an organization are acting in a dishonest fashion, it will affect the entire organization.


No kids couldn't care less what a council exec does! But mom & dad do!


Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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"No kids couldn't care less what a council exec does! But mom & dad do!"


I bet that over 75% of the Moms & Dads in Greater Pitt. Don't even know the name of the Scout Exec.

But by the end of the summer they will know how good or bad the food was at camp.


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