Jump to content
SeattlePioneer

Scouting's Administrative Burden On Volunteers

Recommended Posts

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.

 

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 has a collection of BSA applications that can't be processed for various reasons.

 

The administrative burden is BAD,  and getting worse pretty rapidly,  in my experience.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While there really are many inefficiencies in council offices and most any office, really, it is not completely their fault.  Much of the problem is plain carelessness and lack of completeness on the part of the volunteers.  The paperwork may be tedious, but it is part of the process and normally flows fairly well when properly done to start with.  And much of the nightmare is caused by our litigious society and tendency to take the easy way out if we can.

 

Missing required info, especially complete names, phones, and signatures will always foul it up.  Over the years I have had numerous occasions of having to return an application or other form to the parent or other individuals.  They too often seem to think they only have to furnish the parts they want to, or info that they cannot remember, so it is left off.   Before it is turned in, someone should carefully review it and try to assure it is less likely to be kicked back.  

 

When you have issues, you at least can be fairly sure it is not being caused in part by you or your other leaders.  Then also try to not lose it with the staff, especially the office people that are generally overloaded.  Treat them well, and they are more likely to find a faster solution.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the natural tendency for ALL administrative structures and administrators. As just one example, there are few things that are more professionally gratifying for an administrator...than to create a new form that people are required to complete.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BSA is not to blame for the paperwork nightmare?

 

They could streamline if they wanted to. Make the form easier to fill out? Allow a person to fill out once and update online? Allow for electronic submission and background verification?

 

I can apply for loans, credit cards, etc., online these days, have background checks and get approval in no time. I did essentially the same process signing up to volunteer at my kids' school...and they have FAR less money than BSA. Why does BSA stay with paper if it's obvious it's a more costly, labor intensive process which both staff and volunteers hate?

 

Of course this is BSA's fault. They are the only ones who can fix it.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@StillLoomans I sometimes listen to the scoutmaster podcast from scoutmastercg. He had one recently where he spent a few minutes talking about the differences in myscouting.org and my.scouting.org. It was amusing to listen to because it is two different interfaces to the same back-end system with only a few different feature enhancements; none of which solve any of the problems you correctly outline above.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thing is, the really great aspect of a successful administrator is that not only do you get to create all this paperwork, you get to make others do that work for you. Until THEY have to deal with all the red tape there will never be any incentive to cut it and that steaming pile will just grow and grow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thing is, the really great aspect of a successful administrator is that not only do you get to create all this paperwork, you get to make others do that work for you. Until THEY have to deal with all the red tape there will never be any incentive to cut it and that steaming pile will just grow and grow.

 

Very true.

 

I bet exit interview from adults leaving BSA for whatever reason would likely show that one of the top 5 reasons adults found Scouting a pain in the rump was the incessant paperwork. A small subscription to SurveyMonkey and BSA could get that data no problem.

 

I have to think council knows paperwork is a problem. Our service center folks make jokes about it and hate it as much as volunteers do. They have to know this is an issue. I guess someone likes the paperwork OR is too scared to speak up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The adult leader application is one of the few carbon-based non-life forms used today. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my experience mailing anything to our council office by mail (i.e. postal service) is a good way for nobody to ever see it again, or at least nobody at the council office will admit having seen it. Personal delivery (which of course requires MORE volunteer time) seems to have a lower "missing" rate. I know that some things can be submitted by email but not other things. And of course all this assumes that the form is filled out correctly in the first place. Especially in Cub Scouts, when I was more involved with the paperwork than I am now, a lot of parents seemed to be under the impression that any information required by a form that they did not have immediately at hand did not apply to them.

Edited by NJCubScouter
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few years ago I recommended on this forum that the BSA adopt the online application similar to the AYSO. It does everything we need, tracks training as well, and is updated annually. I was jumped hard by the old guard here, who screamed at me that if I wasn't willing to spend the extra time filling out another adult application, I was not worthy of service.

 

Glad to hear that people are coming around.

 

1 online site. Have an annual update requirement. Allow for all positions to be verified. For those of us with roles in multiple units (a Pack, a Crew, a Troop, and Ship in my case), we can get the data in there, and the Unit Commissioner for each one can log in to confirm. Again, AYSO has this figured out - I was able to handle a 2,000 youth league with hundreds of of volunteers without a problem (I was the volunteer at the board level in charge of ensuring that all volunteers were registered, trained and eligible).

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few years ago I recommended on this forum that the BSA adopt the online application similar to the AYSO. It does everything we need, tracks training as well, and is updated annually. I was jumped hard by the old guard here, who screamed at me that if I wasn't willing to spend the extra time filling out another adult application, I was not worthy of service.

 

Glad to hear that people are coming around.

 

1 online site. Have an annual update requirement. Allow for all positions to be verified. For those of us with roles in multiple units (a Pack, a Crew, a Troop, and Ship in my case), we can get the data in there, and the Unit Commissioner for each one can log in to confirm. Again, AYSO has this figured out - I was able to handle a 2,000 youth league with hundreds of of volunteers without a problem (I was the volunteer at the board level in charge of ensuring that all volunteers were registered, trained and eligible).

 

Great points! This was part of the set of recommendations given to BSA by a focus group of volunteers back in 2010-11. It was a three month project. 

 

As you can see, few, if any of these recommendations have been implemented. But we *do* have my.scouting.org AND myscouting.org. ;)

Edited by Bad Wolf

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

×