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In the last couple of years our Troop has been moved from the fringe of one District to the fringe of another District. This was not too big a deal to me as most of the boys don't know what District we're in and don't care. Since this move it has been non-stop recruiting for District positions. In the last year I have been solicited to be District Commissioner, ADC, UC, OA Adviser, Camporee Chair, and Training Chair. I have politely declined these wonderful opportunities, It is my opinion that as Scoutmaster, the time I have available for Scouting belongs to the boys in my Troop. Taking on any of these responsibilities would be stealing from these boys. I have seen other Scoutmasters get caught up in this and seen their Troops decline in membership and from my view, quality. Also when I took on the SM job I promised my wife I wouldn't get involved in any other Scouting jobs.


Last night I took my daughter to a reception for our Councils Endowement donors. It was the National Endowement Art Tour. We looked at the Rockwell and Castari paintings. had a couple of horses ovaries, and talked to some old friends. Nice time. While waiting for the speakers to start here comes our Director of Field Services. The district needs a Camping Chair. He puts the arm on me. I told him the DE had beat him to it, and I had declined the opportunity. One does not become a Director of Field Services by taking no for an answer, so we discussed it for quite a while, but he had to finally quit when the program began. These guys never quit. When I am a retired SM I will probably re-engage at the District level but not now.


Several years ago I was a District Commissioner. I attempted to recruit a former volunteer for a District position. He stated that he didn't "want to be sucked back into the black hole of need that is Scouting". I know these guys are doing their job, but I'm thinking about taking out an ad in our Council Newsletter stating my unavailability for now so I can go back to Roundtable in peace.

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We have a rule in our council that unit leaders may NOT also serve as Commissioners. Not sure if that is a national policy or not. That rule should also apply to other district and council positions. Now there are some troops that have more ASM and MC than they have scouts. We always suggest that some of them may be better utilized at the district level.



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"We have a rule in our council that unit leaders may NOT also serve as Commissioners. Not sure if that is a national policy or not."


AFAIK, its National Policy. A commissioner should not hold another scouting position, a lest not a unit leader (key unit leader, not referring to the assistants).


"That rule should also apply to other district and council positions. "


It should, but doesn't. Sometimes I wonder if it should or not. Some may be able to handle it.


What I find annoying is that there ARE some leaders out there that would like to take on positions at the district or council, but are too often ignored/overlooked in favor of those key unit leaders.


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Hi baden,


Wow, are you ever tempted to ask them how in the world their district functions with all these key positions opening up so often? On the one hand, it's nice to be wanted. On the other hand, I think if I were you I'd take what you wrote here, slap it in an email, and forward it to your DE, FD, DC, and anybody else with even a minimal sense of humor who is likely to come begging for volunteers! Or else, start wearing disguises to RT and sneaking in through the side door when no one's watching...

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Back when I was an SM, the district tried recruiting me for several positions. I had an easy answer for them: Sure...as soon as you find someone to take over as SM.


Suffice it to say, I remained SM until I decided to get done as SM.


Now I'm active at the District level. I do three things: Boy Scout Roundtable Commish, District Co-webmaster and District email newsletter editor.


Apparently, that wasn't enough. They've tried to get me to take on other positions in the district (and one in the council). I've given them a very similar answer as before: I'll gladly take the new responsibility when you find someone to take all my current ones and not before. I can't give the quality effort you need in these positions plus the new responsibility. So far, they haven't found anyone to replace me.


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I used to laugh at some of the old photos of District Committee meetings that appeared in BSA publications.

A room full of people sitting about eight to a table, each table with a big place card saying what committee was at that table.

Strange thing was that in all the photos there never seemed to be a table marked for COR's?

Selecting the right people to serve on the District Committee isn't easy.

I found when I was District Chair that people don't like long boring meetings!! In fact having them attend a meeting when nothing at the meeting has anything to do with them is a waste of time and they burn out real quick.

While filling the big important positions is important, having people who are willing to do one specific task worked best for us.

I was happy to leave a lot of the details to the people who were responsible for doing what needed done.

The computer in the service center churned out enough reports that kept everyone up to date with what was going on, having someone attend a meeting to give the report when there wasn't a problem was just silly.

The agenda was crafted in such a way that unless something was going on that committee didn't need to be at the meeting.

The finance committee started meeting in December, planning the FOS campaigns their work was done in March.

The advancement committee recruited people to sit on Eagle Scout BOR's, managed the Merit Badge list and unless the reports showed that there was a problem with a unit not advancing, we rarely seen them.

Often the Camping and activities committee would ask a unit scouter to help organize or organize an event, that person would give a report to the District committee and maybe an end report, we thanked him or her for their services and they returned to their unit. If it came to light that a unit wasn't camping someone would try and find out why and what if anything we could do to help.

By far the hardest people to recruit were unit commissioners! Trying to fill that gap is almost impossible!

Right now I'm not in the position to take on any more that what I'm doing with the Ship. If for some reason the Ship should fail? I think the time will have come for me to hang up my beads and take a break. Maybe a long break!!


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The reason pros ask unit leaders to take on district responsibilities is b/c they are probably doing a good job within the unit, already have knowledge about the program, probably have an idea what the new job entails, and already have a relationship with the pro. It's not fair to the volunteer or necessarily the way it should be done, but it's much more convenient.


What we (pros) probably should be doing is asking unit leaders to help us recruit someone else from their unit to take these positions. Of course, I had one CM tell me once that if he had a parent in his pack willing to do anything he had plenty of things that needed to be done within the pack. I really wish I could take a whole year and just focus on filling district level positions. Not worry about membership or new units, but just finding and training people for district positions. However, the job doesn't work like that so we are always looking for "quick fixes" so we can get back to membership, new units, and money.

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One thing I have noticed in the past is that District Chairmen in our Council are often recruited because of the size of the FOS check they can write, the prestige of having this person or his business associated with Scouting, or both. Very little seems to be expected of them in the way of leadership of the District Committee. These Titans of Industry are thought to be too busy to deal with the mundane issues of recruiting and leading a committee. I do appreciate any contribution to Scouting be it of time or treasure, but of the two, time is most needed.

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I know it wasn't my sexy knees that dazzled the nominating committee.

Really a case of "Who I knew".

Having been active in the business community, active in the chamber and the local Civic Industrial Society had a lot to do with my being the District Chair.

All Board members were expected to donate at the $1,500 a year level. Most did.

My knowing who to ask and when to ask did go a long way to improving our community FOS, as well as getting people out to attend other events -Most of which were not free!!

I do think my having a Scouting background helped a lot.

Sadly the District next door recruited a local business type person as District Chair, who just didn't have the time for the job and wasn't willing to make the time.

While I'm very much more a program type person. Whatever that might mean.

We do have a handful of people who donate mega bucks ($100,000 a year) without them I'm unsure where we would be?

Many units have lots of volunteer help, maybe too much? While other units have a hard time even finding Den Leaders or a SM.

I really don't think we should be judging anyone for how or what they do to support the program.

I don't give as much money to FOS as I used too. I think I spend more on the Ship than I used to donate, only now it's in smaller amounts and not one big check.


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I enjoyed your response and I certainly agree that no one should criticize anyone else's contribution. One of my problems is that I give what I have to give and grow weary of the constant pressure to give more. I attended an Endowement Tour event last week. My best guess is that $500,000 was raised at that event. Maybe more. I applaud and thank these people for their contribution. It is very important. I was invited because I am a lowly James West Donor. I was cheered to learn that this is an entry-level contribution and I can give more. Would that I could.


I have long felt that in the view of some, Units exist to support Districts. In my opinion the District has only one role and that is to support units. A District is an artificial entity. They are nothing more than an operating arm of the Council. Units are real. Councils to some extent are real. Districts are not real. Disagree? Units have checking accounts. Councils have checking accounts. Districts do not. If they do and are found out, the money is sucked up by the council and some poor pro is unemployed.

If BSA folded today (I pray not) Councils and Districts would disappear in a flash, but I suspect many Units would perservere. There were Scout Troops before there were Councils. Councils perform many valuable services. I presume at some time a Professional Scouter organized our Troop. Today we could function quite well without a Council or a District. Sometime in the future our Unit may collapse. If it does it will be because it is not meeting the needs of the community. If it doesn't it deserves to die. Some form of Darwinism is in effect here. We absorbed an adjacent Council a few years ago because it wasn't working. This worked well for BSA, but not so great for our Council.


Well. I certainly got up on my soapbox this time. I have ranged far from my original topic which is that pulling Unit Leaders in to prop up floundering Districts is penny-wise and pound foolish. Thank you for your patient understanding.

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When one reads the Selecting District Members bulletin, it distinctly looks like work and it fails to mention Selecting Unit Leaders for District Positions as an option. I have two insights into the last approach of focusing one's efforts on recruiting from Units. One is that taking from the units can only weaken the unit's own program and two that by adding to the District's program from the units can only weaken the District's program. Can a person be in two places at the same time? Heck no. Most people in the District or the units have other responsibilities to their family, work, church, etc. Why would anyone want to risk hurting themselves by neglecting other responsibilities?


Part two: Awards can make people do funny things. The District Award of Merit and the Silver Beaver are two that come to mind when considering carrots that compel the weak kneed into action above and beyond. People love to be called out, given praise and showered with glory. It is this kind of bath that brings people to the table when they should know better. Each person needs to think for themselves and consider that by doing something well, even one job will bring the spotlight their way. It will come more slowly but it will come. So, I would counsel patience.


Part three: Recruiting is not magic and it is not power. A person does not have to be a business leader to recruit. I have been around long enough to know that there needs to be care used when selecting. It takes time and then it takes training. A few that I have known could recruit but failed to take into consideration the other parts that not just brings people to the table but keeps them there. Recently, I co-taught with a guy that I helped train last year. When we "co-taught", he didn't move from the podium. This year, he completed WB and now he is working like a race horse. The problem is that he most likely will burn-out because he has found the Scouting Religion and wants to evangelize. So, I still counsel patience.


Part four: Scouting is friendship and that is what recruiting is mostly about. It is doing something with your friends. Making friends takes time and can only be done over a cup of coffee(s). If we value our friends, then we have to make sure that we don't try to monopolize their time. Keeping things in balance takes patience. In this world of fast, fast, fast; we need to slow down and then recruit. fb


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