Jump to content
Eamonn

You Are The District.

Recommended Posts

I'm also jumping between the two district threads.....

 

A semi-pertinent thought:   when did districts become the bureaucratic organizations that many are now?

 

As an SPL, my SM always took me to district RT.   I knew the district staffers from RT, the spring camporee and fall freezoree.  

 

They were friendly.   Helpful.   Respectful.   Superb outdoorsmen.  And there were only about four of them, including the DE.   Strong leaders but stayed behind the scene.  I looked up to all of them.

 

I age out, then come back to scouting four years later as an ASM in another part of the country, go to the district RT, and am shocked at the number of people on district staff.   And a goodly percentage of them are people who are clearly District Types.   In a nutshell, the exact opposite template of my previous impressions and experiences.   They provided little/no service to the units, were focused on fundraising and grabbing good scouters out of units, and liked to throw their weight around at camporees and such.

Edited by desertrat77
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm also jumping between the two district threads.....

 

A semi-pertinent thought:   when did districts become the bureaucratic organizations that many are now?

 

As an SPL, my SM always took me to district RT.   I knew the district staffers from RT, the spring camporee and fall freezoree.  

 

They were friendly.   Helpful.   Respectful.   Superb outdoorsmen.  And there were only about four of them, including the DE.   Strong leaders but stayed behind the scene.  I looked up to all of them.

 

I age out, then come back to scouting four years later as an ASM in another part of the country, go to the district RT, and am shocked at the number of people on district staff.   And a goodly percentage of them are people who are clearly District Types.   In a nutshell, the exact opposite template of my previous impressions and experiences.   They provided little/no service to the units, were focused on fundraising and grabbing good scouters out of units, and liked to throw their weight around at camporees and such.

District events in my area remind me of a scene out of Atlas Shrugged. ;)

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Leadership is always the thing.  Poor district leadership produces poor results.

 

The weak district I mentioned several times is headed for the third year by a business executive recruited by Council  He has no clue how to deal with volunteers.  He expects to rule rather than lead, not a good approach even with employees.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem is not the District but rather those scout leaders who really do not have a clue how a council and district are supposed to work hand in hand in delivering the program to the youth. True in too many councils the only priorities are money and numbers and nothing else and that is where the conflicts and animosity begins.

Some of the complainers here I think feel that it is the council's job to do everything to make a unit succeed rather than take responsibility for their unit leaders who do not go to training and do the absolute minimum in delivering an exciting program to the youth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem is not the District but rather those scout leaders who really do not have a clue how a council and district are supposed to work hand in hand in delivering the program to the youth. True in too many councils the only priorities are money and numbers and nothing else and that is where the conflicts and animosity begins.

Some of the complainers here I think feel that it is the council's job to do everything to make a unit succeed rather than take responsibility for their unit leaders who do not go to training and do the absolute minimum in delivering an exciting program to the youth.

No. Those complaining here think the council and district should help units that need it. Why else would they exist?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm really tending to agree with you @.  Everything seems to boil down to the question, " but what does that do for my unit?"

 

Not much really does anything directly for "my unit".  I do see some opportunity from the district and council at the pack levels..... pinewood derby races beyond the unit for the unit winners and a couple camping activity opportunities.  I suppose you might also argue maintaining the council camp facilities....

and processing the membership paperwork.... but those are indirect at best.

 

And as you say, what little of that is district level, could be done at the council level..... in fact everything I can think of is duplicated.  The district pinewood derby is followed by the council derby.  The district cuboree is exactly the same experience you can get at a couple district run events through the year at the council's camp.

 

It really does seem to boil down to another redundant level in middle management, to use a business analogy.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And as you say, what little of that is district level, could be done at the council level..... in fact everything I can think of is duplicated.  The district pinewood derby is followed by the council derby.  The district cuboree is exactly the same experience you can get at a couple district run events through the year at the council's camp.

 

It really does seem to boil down to another redundant level in middle management, to use a business analogy.....

 

You boiled down my point well. I hate to come off as a nay-sayer, but I have lived through this duplicated middle management for years and years. It is exactly that: a waste of money. No unit in my area needs district or council except for paperwork processing. Do that online and we would not even need them for that. We can get gear from Scoutstuff faster and without the drive to/from to pick it up.

 

Before it got moved to I&P (where it died) we were talking about how to fix the district/council model since many do think it is broken and redundant in another thread. With many companies moving to "the cloud" and pushing business processes (think: paperwork and manual tasks that could be automated) to centralized, consolidated functions, BSA continues to maintain a business operating model that does not fit its mission, nor the modern times.

 

They're all too willing to change the political climate within the organization, why not change their operating model? The reason, I think, is self-preservation of their JOBS and NOT what is best for the organization. If Gates was a REAL change agent (he's not, from a business perspective) he'd make the hard choice to re-organize BSA to a more efficient model and not continue the current model.

Edited by Bad Wolf
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If your district committee is NOT helping your units deliver and develop solid programs for your units then they do not belong in their current positions and should be replaced  ASAP.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<<If your district committee is NOT helping your units deliver and develop solid programs for your units then they do not belong in their current positions and should be replaced  ASAP.>>

 

 

 

That's what my district does.

 

A couple of years ago,  we had district leaders too worn out to do much.  We got new leadership,  and they are doing a good job.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would describe my district the same way... or at least very similar.

Vacant positions and not very lively when i started becoming aware of district level stuff.

Since then we now have an active group of really great people in district jobs, working hard....

 

..... But what are they really doing for my unit? Your unit?

As I've written before they do offer a bit of training occasionally in my district, a small amount of opportunities by way of pinewood derby at the district level, cuboree IF we choose to go to it, summer activities for the cubs.... but not really all that much for our unit directly, and what little there is it's a bit redundant with council.  i don't mean that as a slight against the good people volunteering and working hard.... it's just a function of the jobs they are tasked with.  It takes stepping way back for a different perspective... & pondering the question what are our boys directly getting out of it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our district has an annual planning meeting in January.  We plan activities for the next year or two.  That's an opportunity to decide WHAT the district should be doing.

 

 

What kinds of things is your district doing that aren't worthwhile?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was about to write a long hypothesis about BSA doing away with districts.  Districts were local groupings back when the phone was your only communication tool.  RT's could be online from the council, events can be set up online by the council, training is online from national.  With modern communication, you don't need districts any more.

 

I was going to write it out and rationalize it.

But I don't really care any longer.

 

JoeBob

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From my days as a youth, I have the best memories of the Klondike Derbies that we participated in.  Those were something that had to be done at the district level.

 

Nowadays I live down south and we don't have Klondike Derbies.  We do have a district camporee, and it's fine, but the youth tends to rate it fairly low on their list of preferred annual activities.  We could skip it and no one would care.

 

The district roundtables are fine...but there just isn't a lot there that needs to be done in person.

 

We are a pretty strong unit and we don't have a lot of need for help from the district. But there are a few things that the district does that we find pretty helpful.

 

The most valuable things I've been to have been some of the training sessions...and those not so much because of the training itself, which could easily be done on line, but because of the opportunity to talk with other leaders about how they are doing things.  I've been to district training, council training, and national training, and I've found all of them valuable, but I certainly found the initial district trainings to be a good way to get drawn in to the program.

 

We had one year where there were some very energetic people going out and doing recruiting.  Our pack doubled in size that year because so many people showed up on Join Scouting night.

 

Our district coordinates one very effective fund-raising program at the troop level - most all of the troops in the district participate - the fundraiser is great for us.

 

The district has an OA chapter.  Our youth make some small usage of that.

 

We make pretty regular usage of the district Eagle boards.

 

I think it would be hard to replace all of that. Things should continue to evolve, and the district should focus on the things that are most useful to the units.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By far the biggest challenge a District faces is recruiting the right people for the job.

 

For a very long time in the area where I live Commissioner Service has been really poor.

 

At a Philmont conference on Commissioner service the group was asked what our biggest challenge was?

A District Commissioner from San Diego said that his was Scouting in a harsh political environment !

I said that it was the age of my Commissioner Staff.

Some of the older guys were unable to drive at night!

Without knowing what was going on in the units, it was hard to know what help they might need.

 

Another challenge is trying to make volunteers understand how the organization really works and where the Chartering Organization fits in.

I've had the situation where a group of adults wanted to remove the SM and came running to "The District" in the hope that he'd be given his marching orders. -  It just doesn't work that way.

 

Working with new Units has it challenges. But a lot of the time working with the better more established Troops and Packs is harder.

Even with the most intentions trying to overcome the "We've always done it that way!" Is next to impossible to change.

Rarely if ever do units ask for help.

Sadly what can happen is that when a good unit starts to go down hill, no one notices until it is almost to late.

 

My biggest challenge was trying to work around what the Council thought it wanted and be happy with what they got.

I was very lucky to work with a brand new DE who knew nothing about the job.

I feel very strongly that volunteers should work with volunteers and try and avoid working with professionals as much as they can.

Some of the stuff that a District Key 3 deals with is stuff that many of the volunteers are unaware of.

Some of the goals that DE's are given are not shared with the volunteers, which is really dumb.

 

While I firmly believe that what happens in the units is the most important thing.

This is where the rubber meets the road and from the Districts view is where most of the goals are met.

We (The District) Want to help, but don't want to be seen as interfering.

 

I would never, ever ask a unit leader to serve on the District Committee.

My feeling was that he or she had enough on their plate already.

Eamonn

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eamonn

 

I concur entirely with your synopsis of the situation. As a DE  years ago I had two solid district committees in place which made my job goals a lot easier to achieve each year. I had the two strongest and best organized and run districts in the council , we had at least three times the district activities of all the districts and the volunteers loved it. Knowing your volunteers well and showing them you really do care about them and their units is the best recipe for success.

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

×