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Going it Alone? Or Active with Distrct/Council?

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So, as we have seen we have quite the diverse cross section of Scouters and Scouts here. From all parts of the globe and every aspect of thought and political leanings. I read some of the circumstances people face with DE's, Distrcts, Council and the like and just tremble. I thank the Lord I am in a Distrct and COuncil that functions pretty close to what I would consider normal. I know my DE and have worked with him on a few projects and he is an alright guy. I am on a few COuncil COmittees and feel like mostly My work is valued. I would hate to be in the position that some people describe of uncaring, unfeeling Distrcts and COuncils.


Is there anything that can be done? WHen I see someone complain that Distrct Events suck, my first impulse is to say well help them out, but if your help is rebuffed, or if you have no time to work with your unit and with Distrct it is indeed a quandry.


The unit comes first, the youth are to be served first and them move on frpom there but are there any stories about how an untenable situation with s Distrct ot Council became at least tenable?

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What is a district event??????


DE=Hopefully a benevolent dictator


The old one fired all of the district folks before he left.....


We are on our own......


The new district folks have an uphill battle.....none of the troops are used to the district doing anything.....I presented the fall camporee to the PLC...they responded "Sounds pretty boring".....So we are not going.....I am disappointed....I really want to support the new district staff.....I may go out with my son and man a station to help out.....



So as of right now we are still going it alone.

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It depends.


Growing up, my district didn't do much. And I only remember 1 council camporee as a Boy Scout.


But we were a "Hiking and Camping troop" that was out at least once a month except December. And even then we may have an occasional December camp out.


As I posted in another thread, the district and council can be overwhelming with opportunities. Heck sometimes multiple events are going on at the same time, which has ticked off some folks a time or two b/c the person scheduling KNEW what was planned by one group and how they needed certain areas to be off limits, and instead booked events.


As I see it, the district and council are to support the troop's program as developed by the PLC. If the PLC don't want to attend an event, they don't.

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I served actively on our DC for about 8 years. They were more than happy to have someone do the scut work of running day camp, recruiting new chartered organizations, making 7:30am school presentation for Cub Roundup and, of course, writing nice FOS checks.


The welcome mat was promptly yanked when I had the nerve to become a Scoutmaster. I apparently missed the clues that the Boy Scout program in our district is run flawlessly by the same 2 or 3 folks for nearly 30 years. The last thing they want is to hear from some upity Cubmaster-wannabe-Scoutmaster with new idea.


I spent two years trying to work within that system until the issues started impacting my unit. So I quit. The district only runs two Boy Scout events (which were the source of the problems) so it wasn't hard for an active troop to make up two outings.


And I can name five or six SMs with the same experience. All SMs with 10, 15 and 25 years experience who have given up on district events. Some of their troops still attend one or both district events, but none of the leaders actively help. Only about a quarter of the troops in the district participate in these districts anyway.


In my experience and observation, the kind of people who would want to be involved at the district level are the very passionate Scouters who want to be involved and contribute. While only a clod doesn't understand there is a learning curve and a period of acceptance into any group, not many folks like these are going to clean latrines for decades waiting for a chance to make a contribution to a group.


So you tell me what needs to change with a district to get more folks involved.


(And by the way, I have made a standing offer to help plan and run a new district camporee when the powers-that-be decide it's time for something new or die off, which ever comes first.)

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Our district holds one event per year, the district camporee. We generally attend, although sometimes we also offer an alternative event that month.


I'm not entirely sure what "go it alone" means in this context. There just isn't much for the unit to do with the district.


Our district Eagle boards used to be very difficult, at least the proposal part. The chairman gradually pushed out some of the overly aggressive old-timers and they are now much more pleasant. I think that for many district issues, what is really needed is for new blood to come in. The guy who runs the district camporee was complaining the other day that he's been doing the job for 20 years (or something like that) and that he needed new people to step up. Well, guess what, you've got to recruit them and let them have meaningful input. I really like the Wood Badge model in that respect.

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During my first 10 years of being an SM, I drank the Kool-Aid and was very active in our District. Never missed a round table, participated and staffed many District events, and went University of Scouting year after year.


I think my burn out and current low involvement can be traced to three name and border changes to our District over 12 years. Our large District was cut into thirds just after I got involved. Then these were bisected again into 7 smaller Districts a few years later, then after four years we merged into one even bigger District. At no time was I contacted to see what I thought of a proposed change, it just was announced at round table, effective immediately. There was never a reason or rational given -- it just happened. This let me know how I low on the totem pole I really was.


Each change significantly impacted District events, and made it hard to plan with our Troop calender, so we attended fewer and fewer events as time went on and yet another change occurred. The final blow was changing the round table night to that of our Troop meeting. We struggled to send a Committee Member, but coverage has been inconsistent. Most events and District information are only relayed at round table, so we began to miss out on more and more District happenings. We are so far out of the loop now, that we don't even try to coordinate our calendar.


So in answer to your query, we go it alone save for mandatory training and Eagle advancement.


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After writing the rather bleak message above, I thought I'd check the District website and print out the calendar for our upcoming 2013 planning session. No calendar. Last time the web site was updated was April.

Oh well. Alone again, naturally.

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Hello TCD,





I agree that screwing around with districts is dispiriting for district volunteers. Friendships and associations made through districts are often important motivators for district volunteers.


I would compare arbitrarily reshaping districts to be comparable to reforming patrols in a Boy Scout Troop.

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Actually that was 224, but I've had a similar experience.


The key problem with the decisions from on high is the lack of respect -- no communication, no consultation, no input, no deliberation. Decisions made by secret committees because opening the process to view would be a mess. That's true. Giving everyone a voice and treating people like mature adults who contribute hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to an organization can be messy.


Sounds like a lot of districts reap what the sow.

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WOW, after reading all these posts I guess my district is a lot better off than most of yours. In addition being in Venturing there is rarely anything for crews on a district or council basis unless the crews leadership makes it happen. What has happened in the BSA to have allowed this dysfunctionalism to become so prominent a problem?


When I was a DE each of my districts had a klondike derby, spring camporee, and a special event for the boy scouts every year, the cubs had a day camp, cub olympics or bike trip, district PWD, and their own special event, and the explorers/sea scouts had a rendevous, backpacking trip or whitewater trip, and they helped out at the cub and troop events. We always had bigger attendance than expected at each event. That was 20 years ago. What has happened?


Our district and council venturing crews in my current council do one big summer event together and one or two smaller scale events, all planned by the VOA without any support from council or district. Our crew is very large and has been self dependent for a long while now

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I spent a lot of time volunteering as a member of the District Committee and as a Council volunteer.

The time spent as District Training Chair and later as Council Training Chair, were for me the most enjoyable. I really enjoy working with new leaders and at that time had a great group of people who worked well together and went out of their way to get the job done.

I tried to ensure that we recruited and brought in new faces and used these new faces in meaningful and worthwhile positions.

Training's are fun and the groups I worked with went to great lengths to ensure that everyone felt included.

I spent ten years as a member of the District Key 3.

As District Commissioner, I tried to attend every event a unit invited me to. This of course meant that in Feb. I ate a lot of chicken. Looking back, I'm not sure how good I was? I inherited the Commissioner staff and over the time I served I only managed to recruit about five new U/C's. This might be because I was unwilling to ask a unit Scouter to join the staff?

When I first took the job, the District Chair. was a guy who was and still is my best friend. A truly wonderful guy who puts the kids first but has a real understanding of the program but more has a unbelievable grasp of how to get things done. He was and still is one of the most popular and respected Scouter's in the area. Sadly after about a year he moved on to serve at the Council level as Vice Chair for program and was replaced with a fellow who I liked and still like. But if anything this fellow was maybe guilty of over thinking things. He seen the District as being our District and the Council as being "Them." He didn't like the SE and make no bones about showing it and letting everyone know that he didn't like him. Him and the SE had a big falling out over FOS goals and he ended up swearing at the SE telling him where to go.

With him going unexpectedly. I ended up as District Chair.

As District Commissioner I look back and see that I spent most of my time acting as some sort of ambassador. I never missed a R/T meeting was always ready to jump in and lead a song or offer kind words or advise. At times I knew this didn't sit well with the then Chair. But I didn't care.

We got a new DE. She came on board knowing next to nothing about Scouting or the workings of a Council. Her only experience having been that her son was /is an Eagle Scout.

Her son was a member of a unit that if ever there was a one man show? This was it.

The SM was also the CM. He hand picked the Committee (They used the same committee for both the Pack and the Troop.)This guy was great with the kids, knew the practical stuff, had a great band of hard working ASM's that were mainly parents and ex-parents of Scouts. But for some unknown reason this guy hated the District and the Council.

You can imagine how with having seen all of this and then coming on board with a District Chair who was all the time fighting with the Council, this poor woman was left thinking what the heck had she got herself into?

From her very first day both her and I took it for granted that we had to get along and work together. Over time this kinda changed and we became the very best of friends.

The District was at first not sure about her.

To start with she had a black mark against her because she was a female.

We'd never had a female DE in the Council.

Then there was her lack of experience.

She somehow managed to use both the fact that she was a woman and didn't know the workings of the system to her advantage.

She was a very hard worker and always kept her word.

She was always willing to work behind the scenes, was always there but kept out of the way.

It didn't take long before the volunteers fell in love with her.

She somehow managed to never lose the "Them and Us" Feeling about the Council.

I lost count of the times when she would be coming home after a staff meeting and call me on her cell phone with steam coming out of my end of the phone. She would be ranting about something that "They" Wanted or some silly goal that "They" Had come up with.

By this time I knew enough to know that fighting with them wasn't such a good idea but I also knew how things worked/ Very often by the time she arrived home in her car we had come up with a plan of how to make things work but more importantly how to make them work without upsetting too many of the guys in the District.

While I say that of all the positions that I've held District Chair. Was the one I disliked the most.

I look back and see that I did a great job! (Nothing like self praise!!)


I think some of this was due to understanding some very basic things.

1/ "They" Don't care.

2/ All "They" See are the goals.

3/ Get these out of the way and everything else is easy.

Councils, SE's and the people who work in the service centers don't know the unit leaders, don't know the parents or the kids.

They see and read reports.

They have goals that most (Not all) Of the time have to do with membership and money.


I didn't like the idea of "Us" Pushing the people who volunteer and do so much already to give till it hurts. Sure not asking in a nice way would be a big mistake, but getting "Them" To see that we could meet one total goal (One lump sum.) Rather than messing around with lots of silly goals which might not be met? Took a little doing, but in the end they seen the light.

This meant that the DE and myself could put more time into working the community and less (Read no.) Time hounding the volunteers.

Selling membership goals is different.

The first step is having everyone understand that a unit that isn't growing is in fact dying.

Most of our units have been around for a long time and the idea that they were /are dying doesn't sit well.

Then having everyone think that membership isn't all about goals and is about bringing more happy smiling faces into Scouting to have fun and enjoy themselves is very important and also allows the idea that we need to do everything possible that will help strengthen what we offer. Things like training and even selling popcorn!

There are and always will be people who for their own reasons will do nothing but moan and complain about any and every thing.

Trying to bring these guys on board is hard, it can sometimes be done, but I'm not sure if it's always worth the effort?

Districts work well when the guys on the committees know that they really there to serve the volunteers and the units.

When they ask nicely and never make demands.

They need to remember that units can tell the Council and the District to take a hike at any time.

So being friendly even to the units that want no part in what's going on is a must.

There is of course reasons why anything and everything that is offered should be the best that it can be.

For the most part it's a sales job.




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