Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
SeattlePioneer

Attending District Committee Meetings

Recommended Posts

But if those strong units wont be bothered to help provide leadership at the district level, there isn't going to be a district to provide services.

 

The key word in that sentence is "leadership." The question the District folks need to ask themselves is, are they asking units to provide leadership, or are they asking them to provide warm bodies to do the work under the direction of the existing District Leadership.

 

If the previous district leadership was trying to rope units into providing volunteer labor without accepting input from the units, they may have soured the well. In that case, you'll have extra work to do repairing the relationships first.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think strong units have any obligation to help the district at all. If people working in the district can't pull together the people they need to lead things, then they need to accept that as feedback that not many people want them to provide the services in the first place.

 

No one will staff the day camp? Too bad. Don't have one. Your district has spoken: bad idea. Do something else. If no one volunteers for that, then don't do that, either.

 

This thread reflects _THE_ most important problem district leaders have. They think that the district is there to be serviced by units, because it brings some greater good.

 

I'm here to tell you - that's socialism. You are attempting to force redistribution of leadership wealth where people do not want to spend it on their own. Socialism only works when there is the police power of government to force it. District leaders have no power. None at all. Zippo.

 

If you are a district leader, and this bothers you, then quit being a district leader or learn how to serve instead of demand.

 

It is about cheerful service to others. The units are who you serve. They are the bosses, not the employees. The district is LOWER than the units. Not higher.(This message has been edited by bsa24)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In general, I agree with others that the "fix" SP is leaning toward, fails to address the actual underlying problem he describes. However, I felt that this statement required response:

 

BSA24 writes: "I don't think strong units have any obligation to help the district at all. If people working in the district can't pull together the people they need to lead things, then they need to accept that as feedback that not many people want them to provide the services in the first place. "

 

For a while I was on the district team. I got a reasonably good look at how the district worked and why it often did not. In terms of recruiting other folks so that the district could provide a service to units, my experience and perception was that recruiting other volunteers might have very little to do with how units perceive the work the district is attempting to do to support the units. It might have more to do with the personal networks of scouters in the district positions.

 

This privileges "good old boys and gals" and their ideas, which may, indeed, be disconnected from what units actually care about. It also makes change at the district level extremely difficult. For these reasons, I don't think BSA24's approach of leaving it on the district volunteers' shoulders to find people from their personal networks is useful, if the desired result is a district that is in touch with and responsive to the units.

 

But then, I think SP's approach of strong-arming live bodies into attending district meetings, won't work, either. I am sure that if I felt coerced into attending, I'd be less than willing to volunteer when I got there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I posted before What district committee meetings? Don't have them. What roundtables? Don't have them. Things are far different in my neck of the woods. Though your suggestions are notable, many just dont apply in my council. And I am willing to surmise the same thing can be said of many other councils.

 

What we do have in my district is allegedly 46 units serving purportedly 750+ youth. One would be led to believe that there should be plenty of adult volunteers to serve on the district level. But alas, my district doesnt have district committee meetings as there is really no district committee to speak of.

 

In order to have district volunteers, you have to have units in the district to serve and I am not talking about the alleged units that are supposed to exist in schools or in county housing complexes which make up the bulk of my districts units. You need active traditional units.

 

Again SP, perhaps in Seattle, things are done correctly in your neck of the woods. Perhaps the Seattle council wouldnt stand by as 30+ traditional units were allowed to die because instead of supporting the traditional units, the councils efforts were spent putting together paper units to inflate the membership to make it appear that the council has viable districts. Sustaining traditional units means work and in my council, the pros are more interested in easy membership management than actually serving the units.

 

The Seattle council is just one council in this great big USA of ours and in case you havent realized, things are considerably different outside the scope of your own council. Some cities are quite poor and have broken school systems and Scouting suffers because of it. I am glad that in Seattle Washington, your city is thriving as the same with traditional Scouting.

 

Now I do know where a lot of volunteers can be found. Its getting them active on the district and council level that is the challenge. In my council (and I am sure this is the case in other councils), we have a plethora of woodbadgers. They like to meet annually and have a big dinner. All these volunteers come out of the woodwork to break bread together and pat themselves on the back. Many are no longer associated with individual units. These folks just seem to keep their membership current so they can still wear the uniform. The dinner brings in some good $ for the council. Perhaps in other councils, this resource is more willing to be active.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Abel,

 

 

The Chief Seattle Council is indeed fortunate to be well run and solvent these days. That is NOT something I take for granted.

 

And from time to time I take a Scouting tour across the country, visiting the websites of random councils and the districts in them. All too often I see the kinds of problems and issues you describe, particularly districts with no functioning committee and perhaps just a District Executive listed but no committee members at all.

 

Frankly, the my own district has been unwinding over a number of years, with old hands gradually departing and few new volunteers found to work at the district level.

 

Weak or non existent district committees tend to mean failing units, since only strong units tend to survive and those down on their luck collapse rather than being nurtured back to health by volunteers who will help get things going again.

 

Unfortunately, Abel's district without district leaders leading to an absence of units is just the kind of thing I fear happening.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I gotta chuckle. I'm volunteering a night a week, a weekend a month and a week a year -- at minimum -- but probably more like 15 or 20 hours a week to serve the 60 or so boys in my troop. But since we're a "strong" troop I'm somehow selfish for not contributing time and effort to the district? Yeah, right.

 

Part of your assumption is that "strong" units are swimming in volunteers. I'll tell you many strong units are so because of the dedication and effort of a few volunteers. You want me at district committee meetings? The quickest way to do that is to recruit away my key volunteers. But my contribution to the meeting is probably not what you're looking for.

 

On the other hand, if want to recruit some of the parents who don't contribute to the troop, have at it. :)

 

Seriously, SP, if the district needs help, get out and recruit some fresh volunteers. Don't rely on the units. Earlier, someone mentioned the BSA model that district volunteers should be community leaders and business folks. Does that happen anywhere? I know of one guy on our district committee who fits that model.

 

Districts nowadays seem to serve the primary function of fleecing the flock. A concrete example is our FOS goals. Of a total goal of well over $100k, our "community campaign" (i.e., businesses and other non-Scout folks) is under $5k. In other words, 95%+ of our FOS contributions come from the units.

 

Where is the district adding value?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I have to strongly agree with Lisabob's and Twocub's posts about SP's ideology and methodology.

 

Two of my close friends are very active in the Seattle Council and they have given me a much more realisitic viewpoint of what is happenning there, lets just say it is not the rosy picture SP has given us in this forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part of your assumption is that "strong" units are swimming in volunteers.

 

Gotta agree with this. Our unit always has an adult position or two that are open, and we are constantly having to recruit adults to fill certain roles. Occasionally even twist arms. We don't have lots of adults hanging around with nothing to do. It's not like I just snap my fingers and hordes of adults leap to do my bidding. I have been entirely unsuccessful at getting any other adults to go to Wood Badge.

 

The one thing we've been able to do is to get a few of our adults to serve on district Eagle boards. It's easier to see a direct correlation between that and the service that our own Scouts receive.

 

There are a few troops that become very well established and do end up with a lot of adults. The biggest troop in the council is often over-represented at the district volunteer level, because they've been established for quite awhile and they have developed a cadre of "retired" Scouters - whose own sons have long since aged out but who continue to volunteer.

 

Our troop is relatively young in that regard - we still have a fair number of our founding adults who are still vitally involved in the unit.

 

As Lisabob says, many of the district committee positions do seem to be filled from a network of personal connections, from people who have been involved for a long time. My unit's adults aren't in that network, and we probably wouldn't be able to serve very much even if we were, although there might be a couple of adults who could teach classes if they were asked.

 

And Twocub asks "someone mentioned the BSA model that district volunteers should be community leaders and business folks. Does that happen anywhere?"

 

Amazingly enough, our district committee chairman follows that model. The one meeting I went to, I was surprised to realize that he was the one person that I didn't recognize was the guy running the meeting. He seemed to do a good job, running down the list of people who had to give their reports. I was surprised to see that our district was actually following the model. I'm not sure how effective it really was going to be...it seemed like there were a lot of things at the district level that would benefit from some actual knowledge of the Scouting program...but I could see some benefit from having a fresh set of eyes looking at the situation.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> screw you.

 

Seattle, you have no argument. No logical position. No rationale to present that would convince me of your stance on this issue. Instead, you just call names. Way to go. Nicely done. We're all sold. You are a master of debate.

 

Look, the district is a combination of committee (elected chairman and his appointees) and commissioners (elected commissioner and his appointees) plus a DE.

 

The DE is basically a money hauler for BSA who makes sure the district doesn't get too far off program.

 

The chairman is supposed to make sure there is fund raising, district camping events, district recruiting, and district advancement oversight (only into the Boy Scout program - not the Venturing, Varsity, or Cub Scout programs). 50% of those activities are raising money for BSA or selling memberships for BSA.

 

The commissioners mostly exist to help with rechartering and whip everyone to turn it in. Few people around the nation see anything else.

 

So 75 to 80% of what a unit sees from the district leadership is this:

 

* Time to recharter. Turn in your check, please.

* Time to do round up. Turn in your check, please.

* Time for Popcorn. Turn in your check please.

* Time for FOS campaign. Turn in your checks please.

 

Other than that, you see fall and spring camporees, cub day camp, and a lot of political bickering about who is in charge of what event when.

 

Units have no obligation to support any of that. Units are only obligated to recharter and pay their membership fees - but they don't have to use the district volunteers for it. They can just deal with the council office. You don't have to sell popcorn. You don't have to allow FOS campaigns in your meetings. You don't have to attend camporees. You don't have to go to day camp.

 

The unit can do whatever it wants. That's a fact. There is nothing you can do about that unless you get the system changed so that the district has some power. It has none.

 

If you want the unit's support, you must romance the units. You have to provide something in exchange. Politics 101 - you scratch my back, and I scratch yours. You can't go hat in hand to units and expect help.

 

Read what Stephen Covey wrote about the emotional bank account. He says when you take from others, you make withdrawals. When you give, you make deposits. The district leaders generally show up at the doorstep with a $25,000 negative emotional bank account balance. It's no wonder you can't put on a camp for the poor kids. The rich units already feel like popcorn, FOS, and recruiting + low quality uniforms for a high price have mugged them at the point of a hiking stick.

 

The district leaders will have to do something for the units to make up for that before they even ask for anything. Most will not. Most see themselves as wise old scout leaders who should be sought after and treasured - even obeyed. But they are wrong.

 

The district exists to support and service the units. Not the other way around. BSA has districts set up for failure, because none of their assignments from BSA are supportive. They are TAKE TAKE TAKE TAKE TAKE.

 

Learn to give, and stop calling people names in outrage of reality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First: Full disclosure, I am a Member of the District Committee. I am also a Pack Committee Chair. I am also a Fox (second weekend of Wood Badge this weekend).

 

Next, reading this thread, the argument seems to be boiled down to this. Units don't want to support the District because they do not provide anything of value and the District cannot provide anything of value because they have no support form the Unit.

Seems a circular argument that begs the question, why don't we all work together at the extent of our abilities and limited time resources and help ALL THE BOYS and maybe get the boys involved helping at the District level (OA anyone?) or maybe a Unit give a Patrol the leadership opportunity of a lifetime and sys "hey you guys are awesome at planning our Troop campouts, they are so much fun, want to put one on for the District?

Many hands, light work.

 

Just my $0.02

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So what it comes down to is you want to dictate to me what my cheerful service is. And here I thought one of the advantages of volunteer service was I got to decide what I volunteer to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SP

 

This really seems to be the old what came first the chicken or egg argument.

Most councils I have been in roundtables are attended by 10% or less of all the unit leaders who will tell you they do not attend because there is little, if any, worthwhile information or presentations going on. District committee meetings are by their nature aloof from the units and the leaders instead focusing on a few annual scouting events, and listening to reports from the D. Commish and D. Advancement Chair, not really condusive to luring scout leaders to attend, because they are already busy with their own units program and problems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SP - Back in the day when you were a SM, how many of your Troop's parents, and leaders, did you "require" to attend district/council committee meetings?

 

How many of your Troop's volunteers did you "require" to volunteer at the district/council level in any capacity?

 

 

How many of the volunteers in your current units do you "require" to also volunteer at the district/council level?

 

Have you ever, then, or now, "required" the COR of any of your BSA units to attend district/council committee meetings, and to volunteer at the district/council level?

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...