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Stosh

Hey District, Are You Listening?

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Had our camporee this past weekend and my boys decided they would try it at our local district.  Last fall they went out of district to a camporee and last year at this time, they did a camping weekend because it was their first camping activity as a new troop.

 

Well out of the 20 or so units, 4 showed up for the camporee.  The boys found out that the other district where they went last fall out of 20 or so units only 3 that did NOT show up.  Obviously the difference in programming left a lot to be desired.

 

The first thing the organizers did was break up the patrol/troop into two to be more convenient to their program numbers.  My only patrol won first and third place in the competition.  That was a tremendous boost of morale for my boys to ponder this coming year.  Half won and half didn't

 

My PL asked me to relay their concerns because the adults weren't listening.

 

So I met with the organizers on Saturday after the campfire and found that my PL was right, they weren't listening.  I was told that if I had a problem with the way the camporee was run, the simple solution would be to have my troop do the planning for the next camporee.  I corrected him by saying, no, 4 - 12 year old boys probably couldn't pull off a district wide event, but the really, really simple solution would be to have the troop just attend a different district's camporee.   

 

It is unfortunate that the good-old boys of the political BSA just don't want to listen to what it's going to take to make things better.

 

This was the first time our troop has participated in an event at our local council's camp, too.  There was no running water in any of the campsites for the camporee weekend.  They didn't formulate a very good first impression, and are once again excited about going outside of council for summer camp.  As a matter of fact one of the other 3 troops that were camped near us had their SM come over and get information on this other camp that my boys were going to be attending.  I'm assuming my boys were out visiting other units in their spare time.

 

It was interesting that on the ride home the PL was with me and asked if they could just do their own camporee.  I said, as boy-led they could do anything they wanted to do when it came to camping.  They did hear about another troop that was trying to do boy-led, patrol-method and thought that maybe they could team up with them for an outing.  It's interesting how the little cogs in wheels get to turning when they are left to ponder the best course of action for themselves.

Edited by Stosh
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It is unfortunate that the good-old boys of the political BSA just don't want to listen to what it's going to take to make things better.

 

 

Sad @@Stosh. We had a similar experience with our district after not attending for three years. My ASPL went to an adult "referee" to complain that the scout officials were not being impartial. This adult told him to shut up and get back to his unit or he would disqualify the whole patrol, maybe even the unit (4 patrols)!!

 

At our PLC that night they drafted a note for the district planning group. Very respectfully done. They presented it to the DE who summarily told them, "If they had complaints they (the boys) should plan and run camporee next year or stop complaining."

 

Needless to say, the PLC met the following meeting and elected to go canoeing instead of camporee next year.

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Our troop has planned and run a Troop-o-ree and we had more troops there than your District had at camporee. Three of the troops were from scouters I met on the forum and were from out of the state. It was a night camporee under the Star Wars theme.

 

They are a lot of work, but a lot of fun. Two of the troops we invited ran their own troop-o-ree the next year in their district.

 

Barry 

Edited by Eagledad
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My PL asked me to relay their concerns because the adults weren't listening.

 

... I corrected him by saying, no, 4 - 12 year old boys probably couldn't pull off a district wide event, but the really, really simple solution would be to have the troop just attend a different district's camporee.   

 

It is unfortunate that the good-old boys of the political BSA just don't want to listen to what it's going to take to make things better.

 

... It was interesting that on the ride home the PL was with me and asked if they could just do their own camporee.  I said, as boy-led they could do anything they wanted to do when it came to camping.  They did hear about another troop that was trying to do boy-led, patrol-method and thought that maybe they could team up with them for an outing.  It's interesting how the little cogs in wheels get to turning when they are left to ponder the best course of action for themselves.

Those cogs are just what a district needs. By next year they'll be 13.

 

I'd say put together your two-troop outing in the summer or fall, ask them if they are up for running something bigger, and if the answer is affirmative call your district commish and say that against your advice, four boys have an idea that they want to implement for the district for spring.

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Sad @@Stosh. We had a similar experience with our district after not attending for three years. My ASPL went to an adult "referee" to complain that the scout officials were not being impartial. This adult told him to shut up and get back to his unit or he would disqualify the whole patrol, maybe even the unit (4 patrols)!!

 

At our PLC that night they drafted a note for the district planning group. Very respectfully done. They presented it to the DE who summarily told them, "If they had complaints they (the boys) should plan and run camporee next year or stop complaining."

 

Needless to say, the PLC met the following meeting and elected to go canoeing instead of camporee next year.

 

Sounds like the standard pat answer is to cop out on doing camporees is to hand off the responsibility rather than improve.  I hope we're in the minority on this.

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As someone who has organized district level events, as well as complained about them too, I will say the following.

 

1) The Scouts need to be listened to as THEY ARE OUR CUSTOMERS! (EMPHASIS, OK may be a little shouting ;) )  Telling htem to shut up or be DQed is outright wrong, and telling them to run the event next year going overboard a bit.

 

2) In addition to complaints, I suggest ways to improve the event be offered with the complaint. Sometimes people need others to think outside the box. I know someof the events I ran had problems, and I loved it when others gave me ideas to improve.

 

3) IF possible, offer to volunteer. I know it's not always possible. heck I've had to step back a lot due to family and/or unit issues. But in my expereince, a lack of volunteers is usually the cause of 99.99999% of the problems.

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99.99999999999% of the problem is not lack of volunteers.  (I'm assuming you are referring to adults here.)

 

99.99999999999% of the problem is the lack of youth leadership.  We aren't teaching our boys to be boy-led, nor patrol-method.  And so what we end up with is a bunch of out-of-touch adults trying to run a program that they think the boys need rather than simply asking them what they want.

 

I always get raised eyebrows when I bring my SPL to Roundtable and then he does not go off with the Venturing or OA breakout groups, but stays with the SM's in their discussion.

 

It kinda begs the question of who we do expect to REALLY run the show here........

 

So let's have an SPL roundtable.... What no SPL"s will show up?  Of course not, they have to be leading before that process would ever be effective.

 

So I go back to my original post, "Hey District, are you listening?"  Maybe it's time to let the boys lead and the adults do what they need to do to suport what the boys want.  If the boys don't want camporees, why are we wasting everyone's time?

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Back when I was attending RT, we were always encouraged to bring our SPLs.  Few ever did.  Seems like the scouts fell for that "one hour a week" thing.

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Stosh, sorry to hear about this.   Your district has the attitude of several districts/councils I was in before I retired from the military.   "We are the district and if it weren't for these annoying troops, scouting would be great!"  

 

Recently had the privilege of being a camporee director for the first time.   The camping/outdoor committee in our small district consists of two people, me being one of the two.

 

We asked from day 1 for volunteers from the units to serve on the committee.   The response was great--we had several of the best scouters in the district raise their hand.  

 

Because we hadn't had a camporee in awhile, I proposed the theme be "back to basics," camping/cooking/competition, with the emphasis on patrol spirit.   The scouters concurred and I was knocked over at how enthusiastic and creative they were.    Long story short, the camporee was a success (based on the units' opinion, not just my own) and before it ended, there were several scouters that approached me with ideas for the next one.

 

Now I don't attribute this to any great leadership feat on my part, other than me dispensing with the typical "I'm the district and I know best" attitude and instead emphasizing a) traditional scouting,  b) the unit level scouters are a wealth of talent and c) the district is here to serve the unit.

 

That said, I'm very fortunate to be in a small, rural district, with a key three that love traditional scouting, the outdoors, and believe they work for the scouts and scouters at the unit level.   I'm darn lucky, because I've been in several other places in our nation where that is not the case.

Edited by desertrat77
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That said, I'm very fortunate to be in a small, rural district, with a key three that love traditional scouting, the outdoors, and believe they work for the scouts and scouters at the unit level.   I'm darn lucky, because I've been in several other places in our nation where that is not the case.

 

Great story. Sadly our experience was the opposite...and has been for many years.

  • Scouts run the planning but it is HEAVILY managed by the district "old guard". So much so that the boys get discouraged and just give up giving control to the adults.
  • Ironically those same adults then lambaste the scouts for their lack of ideas, leadership, management, etc.
  • Our unit sent two scouts (Eagles, former SPLs, current JASMs; real go-getters). They noticed what was going on and politely asked the adults to step back and let the boys manage the process. One even showed the adults the flier posted to the units begging for boy-led help. Both our scouts were asked to leave! Believe that?
  • The Key 3 are more worried about their WB tix or where they can get a good head-shot for their district photo. My JASMs took the issue to them and were ignored.

I *do* like the idea of having a unit-based camporee. Great stuff! We know enough units fed up with district that we could pull that off. Great idea. BTW, if you are looking for a district in the west I know a few Key 3 people who could be replaced by you. ;)

Edited by Mozartbrau
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Stosh,

 

Yes I'm referring to adult volunteers. Because in my neck of the woods, camporees are inter-patrol competitions and, at least from what I've seen, patrols need every member, or former member in my son's case this weekend, that is available to compete. Which is why I am for adults running camporee events; THE CAMPOREE IS FOR THEM! (emphasis) But I can see youth running events. Heck the OA runs the trading post at our district camporee, and at council camporee one chapter was running the tomahawk throwing event. Although those folks were the  "G.A.S.ers" ( Gray Area Scouters age 18-20). Now our Webeloree has troops running individual events for the Webelos, so I know the youth are capable of doing the job.

 

Now I do  think the organizers should plan events with the youths' input, making the youth WANT (emphasis) to do them. I remember one year the camporee chief decided to turn the camporee into a MB weekend. VERY poor attendance as the Scouts wanted competition as opposed to classes. Thankfully the other adults that loved the MB weekend haven't been put in charge.

 

As for SPL's attending RTs, I'm cool with that. Heck my son and 1 other youth were the only SPLs at a summer camp leaders' meeting that specifically stated the SPLs should attend. He offered input and was about to raise some 'cane when they were trying to limit archery to 13+ when the guidebook didn't have that age limit. Yep he and others in the troop want to be Robin Hood. :)

 

I'd even go further. I think the OA Chapter Chief should attend district committee meetings. We had that going briefly, but one meeting turned nasty and the OA chief and his dad said "Never again." And no chapter chief has been back since.

 

Again I agree with you that the district needs to listen. think they went overboard saying that you should run the event next year. And I admit I mixed Mozart's post with yours. His patrol being threatened with disqualification is appalling.

 

In retrospect, I think my post may have been misinterpreted. Let me try again, as this is my philosophy running events.

 

1) I ALWAYS want to hear what the scouts think about activities. i want to know what they liked, what they didn't like, and what they would like to do. If we do not do what the Scouts want, then why will they come?

 

2) If there are problems I want to know about them ASAP. If I can fix the problem then and there, I am going to. Best example is when I didn't plan on Webelos fishing, and there was a mutiny. We were able to solve that that day. But sometimes a problem needs to be corrected for the next year. Example of that was the idea for 'Citizenship Class" where the Cubs practiced flag etiquette in preparation for doing the flag ceremonies. And sometimes folks need to think outside the box. Best one of that was a camporee chief who had arranged a Blackhawk from Fort Bragg to show up.

 

3) Biggest problem I've encountered is having enough staff to run events and make them good. I hate having folks have to wait for event to be done, or worse not having enough events due to staffing.More staffing equats to more opportunties for the Scouts. And it means less stress on the adults running the events.

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Sad @@Stosh. ......

At our PLC that night they drafted a note for the district planning group. Very respectfully done. They presented it to the DE who summarily told them, "If they had complaints they (the boys) should plan and run camporee next year or stop complaining."........

 

That standard canned response that is so prolific in scouting.... if you don't like it, step up and do it better..... while it seems so good on paper in some class, doesn't sound so good in your ear when it's directed at you.

Bet it kind of ticked the boys off!

 

I have always felt it kind of snarkey.... as if the person offering the advice isn't helping.  But in fact they are.  Maybe they aren't in a position yet to step up and run a district event, but they can HELP by offering up some good advice....

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My experience with out district camporee was very much like yours, Stosh.  Lots of silly rules intended to maintain the status quo.  No consideration of the Scouts' interest.  Personally, I've never had a Scout come to me and tell me what they really want to do this weekend is compete in a lashing competition.

 

Our camporee required patrols be between 5 and 8 members -- do the math.  What do you do with a patrol of nine members?  Patrol leaders cannot be 14 or older. A PL spends the time and effort to develop his patrol into a high performing team, but his birthday is a few weeks before the district's arbitrary deadline? So much for patrol cohesion, team development and Scouts electing their own PLs.

 

No, we haven't participated in district camporees in years.  Neither do 75% of the troops in the district.

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blw2 -- our guys are smarter that that.  No way they make the offer, "if you don't like it, run it yourself."  There are too many people tired of the BS who are more than willing to step  up and make the changes (me being one of them).  The couple guys who started the camporee format see this as their legacy to the district.  They are very careful to select only Flav-o-aid drinking sycophants to "lead" the camporee.  

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Make no mistake, running large events is not easy and it takes a lot of time. It's hard to find consistent volunteers who can and will give that much of themselves. To continue consistent yearly district activities, our district started asking Wood Badgers to do them for one of their ticket items. When they started to see the quality of the activities falling because the Wood Badge experience doesn't make one a good organizer, they started handing over the responsibilities over to the troops. I didn't let our troop fall into that trap when I was SM, but the district is still trying to use the method of volunteerism. All I can say is without some passion for a successful event, these things sometimes struggle.

 

 

It's nice to see stoshs four scouts come up with better ideas for running a camporee. But these things do require a great deal of human resources and if organizers aren't to accept adult resources, the game is over because there aren't enough youth resources to fill in the blanks. Take this from someone who has designed and worked with boy run district activities as well as the Boy Run NYLT (JLTC). The only Boy Run version ever done in the nation as far as I know. 

 

Part of the problem with Camporees today is that they don't have any real purpose. They aren't appealing to scouts because the purpose of campoerees is to show off their skills. They have to practice and troops today don't do that without a lot of push by the adults. Honestly this is one casualty of boy run. Camporees that do well are the ones with new ideas. Ours  did well because it was a night campotee. Another district did a back packing camporee that went very well. The participants had to pack up and hike to a new camp. On their way they had to compete in other skills. Our troop once added canoeing and biking to a internal troop  patrol-o-ree? Our guys were exhausted by the end of the weekend because they were having so much fun. 

 

Fun camporees are possible, but it does take some work.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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