Jump to content
Eamonn

You Are The District.

Recommended Posts

<<But let's not pretend that districts must exist at all costs. They are the welfare office of councils. Units that need them use them. Those that don't, won't. But don't tell me I need them or have to support them if they do nothing for me.     >>

 

 

 

There are usually several Troops and Packs that have excellent leadership at a given time in a district and can manage quite well without the district  --- perhaps for an extended time.

 

But it's quite common for even strong units to fall in a rough patch and to need help to rebuild effective leadership and program.  The district is the bridge to help in that situation.

 

And in my district a majority of Packs and Troops need help of various kinds to survive and thrive.  The district is the key to that help as well.

 

 

So I'd agree with you that long term there are units that would do fine with district support.  But that also means that there would be about 90% fewer units than there are WITH district support and assistance.

 

That seems like ample justification for having effective district programs.      

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe districts and councils should focus more on getting those units healthy and not relying on other units to make that happen. 

Correct.  But that means that the professional staff would have to have enough competent people to do that work.  That increases payroll and hurts the bottom line.

The bean counter mentality finds it much more efficient to guilt the units into providing volunteers to do that work.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Correct. But that means that the professional staff would have to have enough competent people to do that work. That increases payroll and hurts the bottom line.

The bean counter mentality finds it much more efficient to guilt the units into providing volunteers to do that work.

Or put the onus on the council to have develop programs that work. There are ways to reduce the reliance on volunteers and go directly to the members. Beaty every association has a continuing Ed arm run by professional staff. BSA is running model that is not sustainable. If they modeled on how other associations work they could improve outreach and training and still stay within a reasonable budget.

 

Other non profits do it on a FAR smaller budget.

 

If BSA wants to be successful they tilt at the windmills that need tilting rather than focusing on things that don't need adjustment or don't work.

Edited by Bad Wolf
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't lived in England for a while.

I was a youth member and a Scout Leader there until I was in my late 20's.

Other then the National Camp sites and a small staff in the National HQ everything was done by volunteers.

To my mind that's the way it should be done, the way BP kinda wanted it done.

I don't know about your windmill?

But windmills all over the world make Scouting work with just volunteers

Eamonn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't lived in England for a while.

I was a youth member and a Scout Leader there until I was in my late 20's.

Other then the National Camp sites and a small staff in the National HQ everything was done by volunteers.

To my mind that's the way it should be done, the way BP kinda wanted it done.

I don't know about your windmill?

But windmills all over the world make Scouting work with just volunteers

Eamonn.

Sorry but the district model hasn't worked in my area for quite a while. I've been here 15 years and units that are successful have tried and failed at making the district a success. It's controlled by the same set of folks going on 20 years and they're content to do so. Therefore units have learned to stop banging their head against the wall. Since districts give us nothing we've lost nothing.

 

As for fun activities, training and good council, the units have found a way to surpass what district ever could do for us. Like I said, I see nothing they give our units. It may work where you are. Great. Here we have no use for them. Units in trouble come to us and we help them. Even they don't need district. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How can such a great thread give me such a headache?

 

The district is an extension of the council, as someone posted above. I live in a geographically large council. I drove 4 hours one-way to our council camp last weekend. It's hard for council people to be everywhere, so they have District Executives and district volunteers to help them cover the ground.

 

Roundtables and training courses are a great place to exchange ideas with other scouters. I can read the material for myself without having to go somewhere to have someone tell me about it. But talking to others, asking and answering questions, finding out how these ideas are applied in different units, that's the real educational value of these events, IMO. (Much as we exchange ideas here and discuss interpretations of rules here. Most of my Scouting experience was pre-internet, so we had to do it face-to-face. I'm kicking around the idea of setting up some sort of internet roundtable, maybe in the form of a discussion board such as this, for my district and/or council.)

 

 

For a well-run troop of 30 boys, or a well-run pack of 50, the district is of no value.  However, to those smaller units, struggling to get started or to stem decline, districts are invaluable.  They (provided the district is run sustainably) provide activities/camporees, veteran leadership, "been there" contacts, recruiting resources/access, etc.  None of this is needed if you can get everything you need from within your own unit.  But not everyone has that luxury.

 

Excellent point, and well said.

The troop in which I grew up saw both ends of that in just the 6.5 years or so I was a Boy Scout. We had a large troop and a very experienced Scoutmaster and had very little need of district support. Then we changed Scoutmasters several times in as many years, actually lost the charter for lack of adult leadership briefly. (as a 16-year-old SPL, I was the closest thing we had to an adult for a few months, but we continued to have meetings :cool:  ) A 40-year-old troop almost died. There was not much structure at the district level because most units in our district were strong and had experienced leaders who didn't need the district and so no one volunteered much at the district level other than a temporary committee spot to help plan a camporee here and there.

 

When I was a young adult, it was something to do. I had been very active in running the troop as an SPL. When I turned 18, I couldn't do that any more. By that time we had several ASMs standing around with their hands in their pockets. I was one more, very junior, ASM with no responsibilities. At 19, the DE asked me to be the District Advancement Chairman. I was the guy who approved Eagle projects and was the district rep on Eagle BORs. I was in college, so didn't have a lot of time to dedicate to running a troop at that point, but I could free up an evening here and there to go to a district meeting or sit on a BOR and it kept me involved and contributing.

 

 

We have yet to have a third party UC assigned to us.  I am a UC and my ASM is the DC, so we have it covered, but had we not been commissioner overloaded by chance, I don't know what the district would have done. 

 

Your DC is the person who would assign a UC to your unit. He probably feels that between you and him, you have it covered. He may be showing himself or you as the UC to your troop, on paper, and just never mentioned it.

Edited by mgood777

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll take the counterpoint--"you" are not the district in many places in the BSA.   When "you" show up, either new to scouting or experienced but new to the area, "THEY" will let you know in a very clear manner that THEY are the district...and you are not.  

 

I'm thankful I have not encountered this. I started in a rural district where there were not near enough volunteers to fill all the positions. When I started volunteering at the district level, they were happy to have me. When I moved to Circle Ten Council, I wanted to get involved and was immediately put to work. Within a week of moving there I was an ASM and a UC. I showed up at a district committee meeting just to see how things work here where there are lots of people and was immediately assigned to one of the operating committees. (WOW, they actually had a training committee, a camping committee, an advancement committee, etc. and not just a chairman of each.)

Now I'm in another rural district. Recently joined, didn't know anyone here. And again, they seem very happy to have the help. I'm a UC and am helping to plan and staff an upcoming CSDC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, our Good Ol' Boys are more than happy to have you "help." But that generally means dealing with Cub Scout stuff, like running day camp and membership campaigns which are beneath them. If by "help" you mean have any substantive input into how district camporees are run, when or where training is held or other decisions important to the Good Ol' Boys, for get it.

 

It seems to me there is a balance between what the district giveth and what the district taketh. And that balance may vary by unit. As a Cubmaster, my view was the district did a good job of providing a good day camp program (I was the camp director, so duh), holding a fall Cub-a-ree, a marginally helpful Roundtable and arranging for School Night Roundup with the local school district. In return we're asked to do an annual FOS presentation, sell camp cards and popcorn and to provide volunteers to help run the above events. But as a Scoutmaster, I still get FOS, popcorn and camp cards, but in return I get a district camporee which doesn't come close to meeting the needs of our troop (and don't even TRY to tell me I should volunteer to improve the camporee. I've died on that hill a couple times already.), a monthly navel-gazing session and, um, and .... (cue the crickets).

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

... we still haven't had contact with our DE. ...

 

I guess that's where I differ. The last DE and I ... our spouses were colleagues, so we had him his wife and their dog over once or twice. The current DE, well, we wound up riding around on a quad during a SAR at summer camp last year. For us these were young guys who grew up in the program. The venturing DEs have been a little more hit-and-miss. But then again, they come into the program as outsiders.

 

From time to time I've had to call them out at RTs over some asinine council policy they were parroting, but that's point, isn't it? A working district is just big enough to cover a wide geography and still provide two-way communication between and among the pro's and the volunteers.

 

That stuff did get run up the chain, sometimes at my (or someone in the troop's) request. And our SE's would let us bend their ear. These must have been decent enough folks, because two of them made it to CSE. I have met other SE's who at times were quite proud of their brick shithouses (quite literally) and didn't mention a word of their staff and volunteers, so I suspect there can be other ways of doing business out there not conducive tight-knit districts.

 

So decent districts should provide a little something for every unit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So far as I know it is supernaturally simple.

 

As most know, a district is not an entity but is a administrative subdivision of a council.  How responsibility is divided between council and its districts varies from council to council.

 

I suggest that the value of Scouting beyond a unit is dictated by the quality of the respective leadership of the unit and the council/district.

 

Powerhouse units need little outside help.  They have Scouters who understand the methods and aims and are capable of fulfilling the adult role in Scouting.  Particularly, they can competently train their own leaders and Scouters and put on their own fun and exciting program.  While they may participate in activities at the council/district level, they do not need those activities to attract and retain Scouts. They do not need a Unit Commissioner.  I was part of such a unit for 27 years, ending a few years ago.  Our biennial self-operated summer camps  were very successful.  In the three councils in which I Scout, powerhouse units are certainly less than 10% of the whole.

 

For the vast majority of units, the most important potential value added by council/district is Scouter and leader training.  Success in such training depends on competent trainers.  Trainers who can offer more than the words of the official syllabii are better.  The trainers need to, as the Trainer's Oath used to say, deliver the message that BSA intends.  That will require, shall we say, interpretation of the applicable syllabus.  

 

Roundtables are also potentially opportunities for more advanced training.  Again, whether that takes place depends on competent Roundtable staff.

 

The council/district also have the potential to provide quality program events - camporees; Klondike derbies; summer camp; service projects

 

But if the leadership of the council/district is weak, the potential will not be realized.  One of my districts is so weak that two Scouters are trained over the border in one of my other districts in another council for every one trained in their "home" district.   Roundtables in the weak district are largely announcements and appeals for money. Yeech!  

 

A common practice of handing out council/district leadership roles on the basis of $$$ donated to council or BSA is destructive of high quality leadership (See "Good volunteer."), especially if competent Scouters are not put in effective control under the titular leadership of the $$$ Scouters.

 

DEs are statistically unlikely to help much.  Most are there -- briefly -- becasue the council was an employer of last resort.  The small percentage there becasue they love Scouting are largely tied down with "M&M" (money and membership).  Those rare jewels of devotion and competence are wonderful to be around, but may soon be gone.  

 

It might be that Scouters from a strong unit feel a call to help (Helpful) other youth in other units through service at the council/district level. Not sure if that responds at all to "What's in it for my unit?" Indeed, much the same effect might be approached by merely reaching out to help on a unit-to-unit basis.  

 

Draw your own conclusions from what you experience.  Beware of overgeneralizing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@TAHAWK I can say that in my area we've developed self-sufficient units simply because of the lack of a good district model. The units became "power units" our of necessity, rather than out of want. When the district tried to insert themselves they found deaf ears.

 

What is alarming is that my scouter friends are telling me their districts are going this route lately, so I am not so sure that the "powerhouse" units are on the decline. Many I know are going that route simple because it is easier to keep their unit successful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our district is coming off an extended period of weak leadership. 

 

As Day Camp Program Director, I'm looking for ways of organizing and staffing a quality program. What I'd like to do is to encourage strong units in the district to take charge of a day camp activity each year.  Rather than trying to recruit and train individuals to staff day camp,  we would rely on Cub Packs and Troops who would take charge of an activity each year.

 

Doing this would enable the unit to become expert at providing a great program.

 

Good theory I think,  but I'm having trouble getting units to bite.  

 

Eleven years ago I assisted a failed Cub Pack to get back on it's feet and helped it organize a pack overnight,  which included a popular monkey bridge.  I continued to associate with that pack for years a Unit Commissioner.  Now I'm trying to seel them on organizing an obastacle Course at day camp which would include a monkey bridge,  an activity they have continued over the years.

 

No confirmation from the Cubmaster that they will do that though.

 

Sigh.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SP, I proposed that our Klondike program consist of events each "sponsored" by a troop,  I called a meeting and invited each interested troop to send its SPL and a Scouter.   The units that came with the most complete proposals were our better troops, and we had, and have had since, no problem presenting a day of events that are operated very well.  That process has gone on for twenty-five years. (How time flies !!), complete with an elected event "SPL."

 

Are they clear that you only want them to operate one event?

 

 

Did I say your mileage may vary?  If not, YMMV.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our district is coming off an extended period of weak leadership. 

 

As Day Camp Program Director, I'm looking for ways of organizing and staffing a quality program. What I'd like to do is to encourage strong units in the district to take charge of a day camp activity each year.  Rather than trying to recruit and train individuals to staff day camp,  we would rely on Cub Packs and Troops who would take charge of an activity each year.

 

Doing this would enable the unit to become expert at providing a great program.

 

Good theory I think,  but I'm having trouble getting units to bite.  

 

 

Our units supports our Packs who do this. The problem is the timing they pick....it is usually right when sports teams at that age do their summer pre-camp. Poor timing. When moved to another time they had nearly 100% of the top units helping.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our units supports our Packs who do this. The problem is the timing they pick....it is usually right when sports teams at that age do their summer pre-camp. Poor timing. When moved to another time they had nearly 100% of the top units helping.

 

i can relate to that. I thought we had a good time for day camp, and our attendance showed that the date was the right one.  Then they moved it up  about 3 weeks. Doable, but there were some adult staffing issues as our teachers who staffed couldn't staff the entire time due to all the snow days.

 

They pushed it back a week, and now we have issues getting den chiefs since most of the camps are at summer camp.

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

×
×
  • Create New...