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SeattlePioneer

Scouting's Administrative Burden On Volunteers

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Completely agree. I have a rant in Council Relations about this. Too much paperwork, ineffective online solutions, little upkeep of online resources, lack of good morale at council office.

 

Examples:

  • Lost merit badge counselor application, 3 times for the same person. Impeccably completed as verified by the copies she kept after the first one was lost.
  • Online registration that doesn't check the age of the scout registered, though birth date is required for registration. Scout too young for activity and has to be rescheduled or refunded.
  • Merit badge college registrations that can be made online, but modified by only two people in the council and one of which goes on vacation the week before MBC begins. Check-in at MBC was chaotic, to say the least.
  • The only way to know that the MBC registrations, above, could be modified only by two people in the council was to call the council office and talk to the right person. Attempts to do it online by using indicated links led to an error page.
  • At re-charter, training had to be verified for the unit through myDOTscouting.org, not myscouting.org. OK, fine, but myDOTscouting.org only updated every two weeks or so, misleading unit leaders who thought they were not using the site correctly to enter in the same info over and over again.
  • The list of available merit badge counselors has been on our council website for years. Years. I just discovered that two years ago, the decision was made to no longer use that format to maintain the list. This is NOT indicated ANYWHERE on the web page which should no longer exist. Merit badge counselor lists are available only through the DE now.

So tired of having my volunteer time wasted this way.

 

It's actually national BSA policy not to have a list of available merit badge counselors on the council websites. Merit Badge Counselor lists should only be available through the DE. Thankfully, our DE has ignored that.  Not sure why National made that silly policy. 

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It's actually national BSA policy not to have a list of available merit badge counselors on the council websites. Merit Badge Counselor lists should only be available through the DE. Thankfully, our DE has ignored that.  Not sure why National made that silly policy.

I don't think our council has ever had the MB counselor list on their web site. It used to be available by email on request but I don't think that is the case anymore. It seems to be shared only with the SM and maybe one or two other leaders in each unit. I guess the idea is that they want the Scouts to talk to the SM first before calling a counselor, which is what they are supposed to do anyway. There may also be an issue of putting the counselors' addresses and phone numbers on the web, since some counselors may have unlisted phone numbers.

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I don't think our council has ever had the MB counselor list on their web site. It used to be available by email on request but I don't think that is the case anymore. It seems to be shared only with the SM and maybe one or two other leaders in each unit. I guess the idea is that they want the Scouts to talk to the SM first before calling a counselor, which is what they are supposed to do anyway. There may also be an issue of putting the counselors' addresses and phone numbers on the web, since some counselors may have unlisted phone numbers.

 

Exactly. But this is all solvable with a simple online database. Folks register each year online, but in their contact email, an alias is created, MBCs can update their record if things change but keeps the same contact alias, if someone does not re-register they are sent reminders and then put in the archive, can re-activate if registered through BSA, all ties back to your BSA record and background check. Annual checks are run against the data based on those registered. Once approved, MBCs are contacted through their alias (which is tied to the region/local area) they are in. Scouts can contact the MBCs using the alias and then a neutral site meeting can take place. The contact sheet can even be set up to copy the parent/guardian of the scout requesting the meeting (or a BSA drop box) so that "virtual two deep" is met.

 

Schools and sports programs use such a system to validate and manage their volunteers so this should be a slam dunk for BSA. It just takes time, some money and some smart semi-technical people to define the business requirements and processes. After that, the subcontractor building the system does the work. Easy-peasy. ;)

Edited by Bad Wolf
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<<

To give an example,  I recently sent in several Cub Scout Day Camp applications to the council.  Each of these involved several pieces of paperwork,  and several weren't done correctly and had to be returned to families for do overs.

 

Today I was informed by the District Executive that these applications have not been processed at the council office and are missing.  They were mailed in  --- were they received?  Were they mixed in with applications from another district?  Something else? 

 

If they can't be found,  I suppose I will be further burdened by going back to ask people to fill out applications AGAIN.>>

 

 

 

My DE e-mailed me today to let me know that these applications were delivered to the council today  ---- apparently just slow mail delivery.  I'd made out the check for this on June 23rd and they went out in the mail June 24th.

 

 

It would have been quite burdensome to have had to do all that again.

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I find that Scouting makes enormous and unreasonable administrative demands on volunteers.  It's strangling Scouting,  in my experience.

 

To give an example,  I recently sent in several Cub Scout Day Camp applications to the council.  Each of these involved several pieces of paperwork,  and several weren't done correctly and had to be returned to families for do overs.>>

 

 

Never mind!

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The BSA must love its crummy administrative system...it works to the BSA's complete satisfaction.  

 

We volunteers are just complainers and sloppy.  After all, we should be happy to spend hours filling out and re-filling out paperwork.   None of us have professions, families, studies, or other civic duties.   Naturally it's our fault when the council or national loses paperwork.   Or takes months to complete a simple transaction. 

 

Take the worst paper-based processes, combine them with unreliable/unintuitive software, and add a heaping spoonful of council/national neglect, and you've got the BSA administration system.

 

Each fall, it's a delight to watch district and council staffers harp on the rechartering process, and how important it is to get it done on time.   They'll brief the unit level scouters, at length, going over every little byzantine detail of the bloated, unnecessarily difficult, time consuming process.

 

Then the same district and council staffers are disappointed and concerned about X number of units that failed to met the deadline.   Surprised, even.   It's like an oft-repeated campfire story, you know the ending will be the same each time.

 

There have been some superb suggestions by others on how the BSA can improve its processes.   Let's see National include these initiatives in its next 5 year strategic plan.   As we discussed in another thread, National's previous 5 year plan was a resounding success, by National's estimation.  

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It's actually national BSA policy not to have a list of available merit badge counselors on the council websites. Merit Badge Counselor lists should only be available through the DE. Thankfully, our DE has ignored that.  Not sure why National made that silly policy. 

 

Yes, this is true. The list was protected behind a login and password that was available from the DE. Since the login and password never changed, in practice it was shared from leader to leader. Still not a great practice, but it kept out nosy parents. And of course abandoning a system and not indicating this for two years is not efficient in any way.

 

The MBC list provided by my DE has its own problems. I've opened the file through Excel and Google docs and from both have a document that is barely usable. And I don't think that the DE sharing copies that can be in turn sent out to the masses is any more discreet than putting it on the website.

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Online applications have been live on BeAScout.org for almost two years.

 

This is true. We have had scouts apply this way. Paper copies are printed and sent around for signatures, at least in my council. So not really much of an improvement over the multipart forms except that the printed online forms are recyclable.

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<<

Each fall, it's a delight to watch district and council staffers harp on the rechartering process, and how important it is to get it done on time.   They'll brief the unit level scouters, at length, going over every little byzantine detail of the bloated, unnecessarily difficult, time consuming process.

 

Then the same district and council staffers are disappointed and concerned about X number of units that failed to met the deadline.   Surprised, even.  >>

 

 

 

Heh, heh!   I figured out  the simple way to recharter last year.

 

 

Rather than flogging families to renew their memberships,  I rechartered with those who had already qualified for a new membership based on accrued popcorn sales as of the middle of October.   There were four,  I think.

 

 

So I rechartered with those boys only and adult leaders who had their YPT current.

 

I took the  paperwork in to my DE the week after I got it,  and the DE couldn't believe it!  Our unit was the first IN THE COUNCIL to complete rechartering!

 

As additional boys and adults got their memberships paid up,  I simply sent a note to the DE to reactivate those memberships along with a check.

 

Easy Peasy!

Keep It Simple,  Stupid!

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Online applications have been live on BeAScout.org for almost two years.

 

Hmmm, looked and could not find it. Can you post a screen shot? All I see are videos, social media links and the Google search that allows you to find a local unit. I can request information from any unit, but don't see any online application to sign me or my kid up. Am I missing a link somewhere?

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Hmmm, looked and could not find it. Can you post a screen shot? All I see are videos, social media links and the Google search that allows you to find a local unit. I can request information from any unit, but don't see any online application to sign me or my kid up. Am I missing a link somewhere?

 

AkjN5Be.png

 

The option to accept online apps is enabled or disabled from the unit pin settings in myscouting.  Your unit key 3 have default access and can add other users.

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AkjN5Be.png

 

The option to accept online apps is enabled or disabled from the unit pin settings in myscouting.  Your unit key 3 have default access and can add other users.

 

Thanks. That explains it. Never knew that was an option. Makes you wonder why they can't roll that out beyond this site.

 

EDIT: And just as I go to log in to myscouting.org my account -- which I have had since 2005 -- seems to be inactive. Just gotta love BSA online systems....not.

Edited by Bad Wolf

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I went to Pin Settings and still cannot find it.  I did have to chose two security questions when I tried to sign in.  My guess Bad Wolf is that something is glitchy with that and hence your problem.  I have never encountered any set of IT systems as consistently abysmal as BSA's.

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