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CricketEagle

Path To Save Bsa?

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So that's 12 execs at National making $200,000 or more, and nine of those are making $300,000 or more, on up to the CSE making more than $800,000. And that doesn't even count the "other compensation," which is probably a combination of the value of benefits and whatever else. The total for the CSE is close to 1 million. And this is from four years ago, who knows what the salaries are now. I suspect that these people have been working overtime to mend fences as best they can to avoid a massive loss of major CO's.

 

(By the way, though it's not relevant to this thread, I notice a former CSE, Roy L. Williams, is listed as receiving $230,000 from "related organizations." I wonder why someone who left office in 2007 was still being paid in 2011, and what the "related organizations" are.)

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I will say this:

 

I honor to call Jim Terry (late the Deputy Chief Scout Executive, CFO) a friend.  He was the SE of Heart of America Council.  He is a true believer in traditional Boy Scouting.  He was worth 600K to BSA.  Make no mistake on that.

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Nobody in a non-profit or charitable organization should be paid $600,000.  It's wrong.

 

In all corporations, people who make that kind of money are on the hook for GENERATING a sizable portion of income for that organization. If you are not a profit center in an organization, and you are making THAT MUCH, you better darn will be introducing ideas and programs that are 1) getting you new clients, 2) streamlining your costs, 3) cutting waste or expenses, or 4) being innovative in the areas of R&D. If you are not doing any of that you won't last long.

 

If these guys are doing any of this -- which membership numbers, clunky IT systems, rising costs and poor quality service suggests they aren't -- I find it hard to believe these guys are "worth" that much in salary.

 

Add to that if these guys live in the DFW area, you can live 30% cheaper than most other metro areas, so $600k gets you a VERY good lifestyle. 

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The pay scale does seem to be unreasonably top heavy. Compare that to the highest ranking generals/admirals in the military whose pay tops out around $250k and may be responsible for organizations with employees numbering into the hundreds of thousands, serving 300 million "customers".

 

Also, the BSA personnel and professional advancement system is completely insulated from outside competition other than at the entry-level. Internal politics is the main driver over who reaches those highest levels, it is very often difficult to quantify the impact of any executive in the organization, lots of correlations, not much causal demonstration.

 

The BSA professional system also basically guarantees that BSA's professional side is unable to learn from any outside organizations. Since the system is such a closed loop, there is no good way of injecting the best practices and lessons learned from comparable or competitive organizations (most businesses do so by having at least a portion of their upper positions open to competitive outside hires). Also, by that same token, our executives are only graded relative to each other, they are never graded relative to any sort of industry wide performance metric.

 

It seems one of the BSA problems is the professional system is too isolated from both internal and external feedback and correction. Similarly, just about everything BSA does is rather insular, we try to reinvent the wheel on far too many things rather than adopting common standards or practices.

 

As an example of that last, take the model for camp management. Almost every other operator of camps has a "camp director" type person in residence at the camp year round, who is in charge of both facilities and programming, marketing, staffing, and essentially coordinates everything. The BSA model is that you have a "ranger" who is a glorified maintenance man year round on site. You then have a Director of Camping Service (six figure expense on payroll/benefits) located at the Council Service Center that is supposed to oversee all camping operations (assisted by a camping secretary that does all the scheduling and reservations and such, but may have never even set foot on the camps). Then you may also have a Director of Program (another six figures) at the Service Center that is responsible for some aspects of program at camp, often with unclear boundaries relative to the Camping Director. Then you have a seasonal Camp Director (usually a junior DE, often a random business/non-profit leadership major with no scouting background) who actually tries run the summer camp program (but has to split time with their district responsibilities, and try to keep their family/personal life functional). Then you very often have a seasonal Program Director, very often a volunteer the rest of the year, like a college student, who together with the the Commissioner (if you are lucky a long serving volunteer), actually has to run the show, and try to manage a working relationship with the ranger, and with the scoutmasters. Oh, and most council's typically expect our camps to charge fees roughly half what our competitors, do, while making a 50% profit for the council, and insisting that junior staff should only be payed $75 per week, I suppose the money for the Camping Department at the Service Center has to come from somewhere...

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Then you have a seasonal Camp Director (usually a junior DE, often a random business/non-profit leadership major with no scouting background) who actually tries run the summer camp program (but has to split time with their district responsibilities, and try to keep their family/personal life functional). 

 

This explains a lot about why summer camps are not as well run as they could be.

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Scouter Matt,

 

A lot of what you said is true but I've seen some exceptions:

 

-there is a tenure system that on reaching 3 years service (& promotion to Senior DE) a professional can leave, gain experience in a related sector, and return to the BSA.  I've seen an SDE leave, work for another non-profit and come back as a Development Director.

-I've seen some inside office functions filled by non-insiders, e.g. council CFO wasn't a professional scouter (possibly the reason for the CFO title vs "Director of Finance Services").  But for the large part, the "X directors" and the "Directors of Y Services" are promoted from within. 

-around here, the live-in rangers are also Camp Directors during summer camp season.  Program directors are volunteers (school teachers). 

 

The BSA has a rather odd management structure: only in the BSA can you be "demoted" into a position you just supervised, get a pay raise, and not have it look bad.  How?  Once promoted to Scout Executive in a small (usually) council, an SE moves up by seeking employment with larger (and higher-paying) councils with occasional detours through national and regional positions.  An SE can serve several small councils, get promoted to Area Director overseeing 10-12 local councils, and then take a position as Scout Executive in a bigger council for higher pay than his Area Director salary.  I've seen an AD appointed to fill a vacancy in his own area, essentially becoming supervised by his own replacement.  Some large councils can pay the #2 position (assistant/associate/deputy scout exec, director of field service, COO, whatever) more than the little councils pay their #1.

 

Also BSA has that odd quirk of requiring a Scout Executive to serve two masters: the local council board paying his salary and the National BSA, whose personnel offices he relies on for the next promotion.  When a council has a Scout Executive vacancy, they can't just hire a successful exec from a local non-profit.  The board is allowed to tell BSA what they're looking for (a "program guy," "ace recruiter" (membership), fund raiser, manpower/volunteer recruiter, etc.).  BSA national gives them a stack of several resumes/dossiers and that's it: they can only hire from that limited list.

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If these guys are doing any of this -- which membership numbers, clunky IT systems, rising costs and poor quality service suggests they aren't -- I find it hard to believe these guys are "worth" that much in salary.

 

I concur, Bad Wolf.   Clearly their pay is not tied to performance.   At least not how people in the field view their performance.   National is clearly an organization that performs to its own complete satisfaction.

 

Just a few months ago, National was patting themselves on the back from achieving "success" re their last strategic plan.    Complete disconnect from reality.

 

I guess if you are going to reach for a star, reach for the lowest one you can!

 

Scouter Matt:   thank you for your insights.   If I'm tracking, it looks like the senior positions at National are basically gold watches for the old guys.  Meetings, speeches, the buffet circuit.    Reminds me of those football teams where the seniors start and play the whole game, every game, regardless of how poorly they play, "because it's their turn and they've earned it."   Usually results in a losing record.

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This explains a lot about why summer camps are not as well run as they could be.

Scouter Matt, Bad Wolf,

 

Spot on.   BSA camps are valuable resources.   But many are poorly run.   Sagging infrastructure, lousy programming, lazy staff.  Result:   scouts stay away in droves, less camp income, camp goes into decline, camp is sold by the council, camp becomes a subdivision.  

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Oh, and most council's typically expect our camps to charge fees roughly half what our competitors, do, while making a 50% profit for the council, and insisting that junior staff should only be payed $75 per week, I suppose the money for the Camping Department at the Service Center has to come from somewhere...

75 dollars a week?   Wow, I thought they'd make more by now.   As a junior staffer at summer camp ('78) I made 25 dollars a week, with a ten dollar raise per week for each subsequent year I was rehired.   My third and final summer on staff, I made 45 dollars a week.  A glorious sum!   Looks like the BSA is really fighting to control costs, and so they are holding the line on those outrageous camp staff salaries :)

Edited by desertrat77
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75 dollars a week? Wow, I thought they'd make more by now. As a junior staffer at summer camp ('78) I made 25 dollars a week, with a ten dollar raise per week for each subsequent year I was rehired. My third and final summer on staff, I made 45 dollars a week. A glorious sum! Looks like the BSA is really fighting to control costs, and so they are holding the line on those outrageous camp staff salaries :).

 

No wonder the staff is suspect. At those rates who would take such a job but the truly desperate. The high-end scouts we want teaching scout craft or first year scouts are life guarding or at private outfitters making minimum wage.

 

So do I have this right? Councils fall under non discrimination laws at their camps but not minimum wage laws? How crazy is that?

Edited by Bad Wolf
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No wonder the staff is suspect. At those rates who would take such a job but the truly desperate. The high-end scouts we want teaching scout craft or first year scouts are life guarding or at private outfitters making minimum wage.

 

So do I have this right? Councils fall under non discrimination laws at their camps but not minimum wage laws? How crazy is that?

Excellent point...potentially great staffers probably think twice before signing up for camp staff.   If they can earn at least min wage working for their uncle's house painting business, why work for pennies at summer camp?   Particularly if you are 16 years old and have a car, saving money for Philmont, and college, etc.

 

Not sure how councils work around the min wage laws, but I recall each year I was on staff, we'd have to fill out a W4.  While we were filling it out, our camp director made the same droll comment:   "For tax purposes, the IRS considers junior staffers in the same category as migrant workers."  

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Not sure how councils work around the min wage laws, but I recall each year I was on staff, we'd have to fill out a W4.  While we were filling it out, our camp director made the same droll comment:   "For tax purposes, the IRS considers junior staffers in the same category as migrant workers."  

Room and board is part of the compensation. And, it is seasonal work!

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Room and board is part of the compensation. And, it is seasonal work!

 

Still...a tent on a crate with institutional food. That cannot be worth the difference between the options available to most scouts.

 

At $7.25/hour on a 40 hour week, kids can earn nearly $290/week working a 40 hour week or $2600 over 9 weeks (before taxes). Compare that with earning $75/week for 6 weeks or so at camp you earn roughly $500 before taxes. When you add in these kids at camp work well more than a 40 hour week, this is REALLY low...and a very good reason NOT to staff a council camp unless you 1) really have to because you have few options, or 2) really like council camps, food, accommodations, etc.

 

I have staffed council and national camps in my youth. The wages were better then and more competitive than staying home and working. Seems the gaps has gotten wider, which means the best staffers are working at Cinemark rather than Camp [insert name here].

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Room and board is part of the compensation. And, it is seasonal work!

That's what we were told.   I understand that camp staff is more than just a paycheck, but the "room and board" deal is a bit disingenuous from an accounting standpoint.  I still like sleeping in wall tents with no electricity, but how much is that costing the council?   Board, true, those teenagers eat alot.   But we aren't talking about steak and pheasant, more like french toast, baloney sandwiches and sloppy joes.

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