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Eamonn

Why did we fail ?

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@@desertrat77 We've got a few threads about districts, councils, national and their BSA operating model. The most recent one not in I&P is here and I posted my summation of what I think is wrong there.

 

BSA wants to address change. They create STEM. They eliminate the most controversial portion of their membership policy. They tinker with courting urban youth. They open the program to women and girls. They start Venturing (from Explorers). BSA *seems* to embrace change -- albeit very misguided and poorly implemented many times. So why do they continue to hold on to a business operating model with councils and districts which many, many people know does not work?

 

The dichotomy in thinking is staggering UNLESS you explain the reluctance to do so with the self-preservation argument of the paid BSA staff. Then you can clearly explain why they continue to feed the sacred cow. ;)

I checked the summation and concur.   The BSA hanging on to a bloated, inefficient management model that just isn't sustainable.   It doesn't serve anyone but themselves.  But no one wants to be the one to put the sacred cow out to pasture, not after years of striving to get to the upper rungs.  

 

It's interesting to look back over the years and think about how things have changed at district level and above.   Back in scouting's heyday, they manually processed everything, served numerous units, and yet did it with smaller staffs.   Yet they did it with alot more courtesy, speed, and efficiency than anything I've seen today.

 

I get the sense that Mr. Gates was brought in for one reason:  to launch the new membership/leadership policy.   I must admit I'm disappointed that he hasn't enacted the same climate of change within the BSA in its entirely, as he did with the DoD when he was SECDEF.  

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Why Mr. Gates was brought in?

I don't know -Above my pay grade!

 

Over the past 30 years or so I have at different times sat on our Council Executive Board.

A lot of the time they put up with me because I was willing to put my money where my mouth was and donated a fair amount to the Council.

 There were times when I looked around at the members of the board and seen very few people who knew anything about Scouts and Scouting.

A good many belonged to big or fair sized companies in the area and their belonging was something that would look good on their resume.

It was expected that all Board Members would donate $1,500 a year.

At one time there were about sixty members!

Without wishing to sound rude, but a good many of these folks were about as useful as pockets in your underwear!

 

They made life easy for the SE as most times they took every word that he said as being true and believed that he was acting in the best interests of the youth in the area.

Which sadly wasn't always the case. 

 

I'm not sure, but I think the idea behind having these people around was that they would bring more money into the Council.

At one time Sony build a plant in the Council.

Soon we got a guy in a suit from Sony. He did at one time get the Council a TV!

 

Back in the day we had local business men who had some connection to Scouting.

They were the go to guys when we needed something.

A tractor needed a part? The local guy would get it donate it and more then lightly install it.

Times have changed.

Local business have been replaced with big companies and on line vendors.

Finding people who will serve for all the right reasons is hard.

We allowed yes men to let not so great SE's get away with things that maybe weren't in the best interests of our youth members?

We seen a few Councils land in hot water for cheating on membership numbers and taking funding that really shouldn't have been allowed.

 

I remember being at a meeting where the board gave the OK for the Council to pay for Learning For Life membership for an entire school.

The speech given to the board was wonderful and the outline and goals sounded great.

In truth it was a waste of Council Funds and the main goal was to boost the membership numbers.

I feel sure that had I not known what I did, I would have been very much for spending the money.

 

Wasting money is bad. What's worse is that the everyday grassroots volunteer sees this and also sees that he or she doesn't really have a voice.

We hide behind Chartered Partners and a system that makes the feelings and voice of the volunteer seem not to count.

 

At dinner the other night, Her Who Must Be Obeyed and myself were talking about a very dear and close friend who next July is retiring from being our Council Assistant SE.

I said that I didn't think that he would be replaced due to the falling membership.

HWMBO who really doesn't follow or get that involved said that she thought that Scouting had gone down hill when they put money first.

 

This "Money First" thing is something that I hear a lot.

I hear it about my church. The reason why we now share a Priest and the School has been closed is because they put money first!

I don't think that this is true.

 

My thinking is that we need to define what we want to do, what we are good at and do it in an open and transparent way.

It is when we try and cheat or pull the wool over peoples eyes that we lose their trust and then their support.

 

Eamonn 

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He is a very kind and loving person who really does care for others.

Living the Scout Oath and Law isn't hard for him.

 

 

 

Eamonn, these words are the testament...well done.

 

I can identify with your observations about after school activities.   I had similar thoughts and experiences.   For my eldest daughter, I sat through many an awful high school soccer game (their coach didn't coach, he just collected the extra pay).   And the band parents!   They really are hyper-involved.

 

Very much concur regarding scouting and equipment...the parents buy all of this Gucci gear, and Johnny may not like scouting after all.   I think our scouting forefathers were very wise in keeping things simple.   The basic canvas BSA Yucca pack was cheap and functional.   Fold two or three blankets from home together, use some giant safety pins, and they had a sleeping bag.    Buy an official canteen or get one from the army surplus store for a song.   Even for the scouts that stayed with the program, the simple gear worked fine. 

Edited by desertrat77

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I really don't see any need for the Oath and Law in the STEM program of Scouting.  STEM promotes knowledge in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.  It does nothing for leadership development, character building, moral choices, etc., those things that uphold the Oath and Laws.

 

I'm thinking that STEM is just the balance the parents want between physical sports and mental aptitude.  Both look good on resumes, sitting in the woods doesn't.  

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I really don't see any need for the Oath and Law in the STEM program of Scouting.  STEM promotes knowledge in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.  It does nothing for leadership development, character building, moral choices, etc., those things that uphold the Oath and Laws.

 

I'm thinking that STEM is just the balance the parents want between physical sports and mental aptitude.  Both look good on resumes, sitting in the woods doesn't.

 

Working in the sciences, I see the need on a daily basis for the Oath and Law or some similar ethic. Lacking it, these fields quickly become monstrosities.

 

Convenience is a factor as well. Lots of folks live closer to a lab or factory than they do to a farm or forest.

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There is another thread running at the moment about Training.

I really don't want to tread on anyone's toes.

But...

It is a real shame when we waste peoples time.

While on line courses are very convenient, I'm not that sold on them.

But having sat through some really bad courses (Both in the real world and in Scouting.).

I have to admit that having people give up their time only not to meet their expectations is a very bad thing.

 

I wonder what might happen if we did away with the Commissioner Staff, Unit Commissioners, District Commissioners the entire Commissioner staff and replaced them with a District Training Team?

These guys and girls! Might have a special talent which they could share one on one with adults in their District or maybe be called upon to work with a PLC and help them in the area that they are good at. 

I know that I might be wrong, but where I live finding U/C's is more then hard and other then bullying the people that they shouldn't be bullying to get charters in on time and doing FOS presentations which really isn't what they ought to be doing, they very often are of little use.

 

These District Trainers really would be a friend to the unit and would wait till they were invited to visit.

Each one would list what they are good at and a list like the District Merit Badge List could be made available.

 

I know that when I started our Sea Scout Ship I felt overwhelmed and I'm thankful for the guys in Maryland who took me under their wing helping me find my sea legs.

I was good with knots and working with rope, had done some sailing but I needed help with navigation.

Spending a few weekends with these guys really helped me out and I was better equipped to do my job.

 

Over time people would come to know which Trainers know their stuff and could avoid the less talented Trainers.

Scouts and Scouting is all about relationships.

I have a good friend who is no longer very active.

He loves Backpacking stoves.

He has a collection of just about every stove ever made.

Spend a couple of hours with him and even if you think that you know a lot I'm sure that you would come away with something.

He also knows a lot about the State Parks that are near and all the trails.

I'm sure that without much prodding he's be willing to take a few adult leaders or maybe a PLC up the mountain for a weekend.

 

Young people and younger adults want instant gratification.

I get as  big a thrill seeing an adult master a skill as I do seeing a Scout.

 

Most of the adults that I've met in Scouting have very good hearts.

If we can find a way of breaking down some of the barriers I feel that we would all be better off.

Eamonn

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Most of the adults that I've met in Scouting have very good hearts.

If we can find a way of breaking down some of the barriers I feel that we would all be better off.

Eammon, I like your idea of having people that can help a unit, but there needs to be a common objective, and that's missing.

For example, how many SMs would say there unit is boy led? All of them, so apparently there's no problem to solve.

 

Better communication would start with a concise description of what the program really is and how it works. We all need to be on the same page as to what the program is. The methods of scouting should handle this but is too brief and vague. Just for fun, go read it and compare it to the worst troop you know of. They have patrols, they repeat the scout oath and law, they go camping, they have scouts advancing, there are adults, the scouts are getting better, there are patrol leaders, and they do wear their uniform. Must be a good troop. Obviously it's boy led.

 

There's also JTE. The idea is good that someone can score their own unit and see where it should be but they've taken SMART goals to such an extreme they seem to have forgotten the important parts. Honestly, where does the patrol method show up in JTE?

 

I'd like to see the methods of scouting expanded to the point where people can score their own units. Yep, we do that, but we sure don't do this other thing. Put in something to score the PLs and adults. If there are a few different ways to do things then include descriptions of each. We go on and on about how to split patrols so describe both. We all agree that patrols should separate so that's fine. Different levels of scout maturity require different levels of adult involvement so describe all that. Teaching PLs how to get over the hump of looking out for their patrol members is probably common, so put it in.

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Haven't been around in a while.    Thought I would stop by and kick the bear.

 

 

 

Nice topic Eamon.

 

Is it we who failed? 

 

I am not so sure.     Granted,  the economy and family situations have change very dramatically since many of us were youth scouts.    I know of only one lad who had a single parent house,  even in that case his dad would take him camping with the troop on weekends.

 

 

Our troop has a stable population of 50,  goes up and down and meeting and outings net about 75% of that.     Yet out of 80 potential adult volunteers I have 2.   Why is that?    We had our summer court of honor a couple of weeks ago and I spent some time recruiting some new adult blood.    

 

 

 

Excuses Not to be a leader

I don't camp

I don't like bug

I work weekends,  sometime

Single parent siblings

I am too old,  gotta laugh because they were younger than me

I don't want too

I am too busy,  this fellow doesn't work on disabilty,  cough cough

I am not good in the outdoors,  we will train you,  NO i am not good in the outdoors

 

Now this last one is made me want to throw up..........

 

I am not going to waste my free time

 

 

 

I don;t believe we have failed,     but the values of the country have shifted and being a good, independent and solid citizen aren't important any more.     

 

Narcissist,   Facebook Twitter, snapchat,tinder,  kik.....me me me     Materialistic,  Egocentric and Instant gratification.   is what it is all about.     

 

I have a few more years in me as scoutmaster,  there is no replacement on the horizon.   Once the last group of boys I have watched grow from wolves to eagles ages out.   I will retire,  replacement or not.     I will have 20 years as an direct contact leader at that point,    I will have fulfilled my obligation at that point and retire even if there is no replacement,  I will notify the troop a year out and try to recruit new leader and give a firm date.  

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Haven't been around in a while.    Thought I would stop by and kick the bear.

 

 

 

Nice topic Eamon.

 

Is it we who failed? 

 

I am not so sure.     Granted,  the economy and family situations have change very dramatically since many of us were youth scouts.    I know of only one lad who had a single parent house,  even in that case his dad would take him camping with the troop on weekends.

 

 

Our troop has a stable population of 50,  goes up and down and meeting and outings net about 75% of that.     Yet out of 80 potential adult volunteers I have 2.   Why is that?    We had our summer court of honor a couple of weeks ago and I spent some time recruiting some new adult blood.    

 

 

 

Excuses Not to be a leader

I don't camp

I don't like bug

I work weekends,  sometime

Single parent siblings

I am too old,  gotta laugh because they were younger than me

I don't want too

I am too busy,  this fellow doesn't work on disabilty,  cough cough

I am not good in the outdoors,  we will train you,  NO i am not good in the outdoors

 

Now this last one is made me want to throw up..........

 

I am not going to waste my free time

 

 

 

I don;t believe we have failed,     but the values of the country have shifted and being a good, independent and solid citizen aren't important any more.     

 

Narcissist,   Facebook Twitter, snapchat,tinder,  kik.....me me me     Materialistic,  Egocentric and Instant gratification.   is what it is all about.     

 

I have a few more years in me as scoutmaster,  there is no replacement on the horizon.   Once the last group of boys I have watched grow from wolves to eagles ages out.   I will retire,  replacement or not.     I will have 20 years as an direct contact leader at that point,    I will have fulfilled my obligation at that point and retire even if there is no replacement,  I will notify the troop a year out and try to recruit new leader and give a firm date.  

Basement, well said.   And welcome back.

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Most of us who deal with "citified" or "suberbanized" parents get that. On top of it, some potentially really good leaders have disqualified themselves with DUI's, nasty divorces involving protection orders, etc ... they may eventually turn their lives around ... but not anytime soon.

 

But, those aside ...

 

... I am not going to waste my free time

 

 

 

I don;t believe we have failed,     but the values of the country have shifted and being a good, independent and solid citizen aren't important any more.     

 

Narcissist,   Facebook Twitter, snapchat,tinder,  kik.....me me me     Materialistic,  Egocentric and Instant gratification.   is what it is all about.     ...

That's really the most honest answer a parent can give you. And, sometimes those are the folks your CC has to try and crack.

 

I get the impression that "back in the day" things worked differently. I think the SM of my youth got the position from my CO as a "retirement gift." There was no question about him holding it for decades until the Parkinson's got the better of him. Of my former scout-buddies who were fit for the job (or for COR or CC), most of us left town or were going through existential crises (e.g. going gay or godless ... not sure if any went girly) ... the only guy left with the heart to replace him didn't have the head for it.

 

Actually there were some great women who remained and could have pulled a troop together ... had they been scouts. But there was no vision for that great a shift in personnel. But that's a different topic.

 

Fortunately in my hometown there's a little industry, and another CO is taking up the Boy Scout mantle (and yet another is fielding a crew). But, there was a decade or more hiatus of mediocre program ...

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The little grey cells have been working!

 

Like it or not, in just about any situation one option that you always have is to do nothing.

Sometimes doing nothing is the best choice. - Not always but sometimes.

 

For some little while now, here where I live Scouting is very much on the decline.

Other then having the odd moan and groan when I meet other old-timers, I have done nothing.

 

I think what might have really got me thinking was when in the obituaries the other day I read of the passing of a local Scouter who received the Medal of Merit a few years after me and I'd been on the selection committee that had recommended him.

He wanted in place of flowers donations to be sent to the Troop that he had been involved with for a very long time.

I went to the viewing at the funeral home and met Ben there.

Ben has given his life to the Troop.

 

Ben was one of the first guys who made me feel very welcome back when I met him in 1977.

The Troop was at summer camp with about 50 Boy Scouts, along with five or six adults.

At the funeral home we got to talking about the Troop  

Ben informed me that the Pack which had always been strong and fed the Troop was now gone and the Troop was down to only twelve Boy Scouts.

He placed blame on the Pack folding on lack of interest from the parents and the loss of Scouts in the Troop on the boys, who he said just don't seem interested any more.

 

I think the world of Ben

He really is one of Scouting finest.

He served the Troop as CC for eons.

He served as my ADC Scouts when I was DC.

When needed he would fill in as R/T Commish. And would help out with outdoor training.

He has twin boys that are both Eagle Scouts and were the two that always seemed to get into more mischief then any others.

 

I suppose that Ben is more old school then I am?

He has no idea what Power Point is, doesn't own or want to own a computer.

The Troop is offering very much the same program that it did when I first met up with them, all them years back.

 

Without wishing to blow my own trumpet!!

When I was Council Training Chair.

I think that I did a good job.

We trained a lot of people.

While maybe the Cub Scout training's were not always the very best. The Boy Scout training's were outstanding.

It seemed at the time we were dealing with groups that would in time be able to do the job that they had undertaken.

 

I'd been on staff for some of the old Wood Badge courses which had been very much the old boy net-work.

I'd seen more silliness and add on material that sometimes seemed more important then what was supposed to be presented.

Scoutmasters Chairs that were carried everywhere he went.

I spent half a day, bored to death hearing discussions  about what length socks we would wear, only to find that we would follow the sock wearing of the SM.

Like or hate the changes made to Wood Badge? In my book, if nothing else the changes did away with the silliness and did a lot to break up the good old boy net-work.

My "Rules" for trainers were few.

Know what your talking about.

Don't waste time.

Don't read the slides.

Eat with the participants.

If you don't know the answer? Say so.

Present the material as it is written.

 

I like to think that we did a fair job of brining new people on board as trainers.

I was lucky in having a wonderful Quartermaster who went above  and beyond.

He had a way of making everyone feel welcome and useful.

 

These guys and ladies that we trained should still be around.

Where did they go?

 

I really don't want to rehash the gay thing.

But where I live, it really isn't a big thing.

No one really cares or cared.

Some people want to point the finger at the Council?

They say that people got fed up being hounded for donations and having to sell stuff.

I'm not sure.

 

I do feel that if we keep doing what we are doing, we are going to get what we got!

 

We need to ask the boys what they want to do?

We might need to take yet another look at Cub Scouting and find ways to make it work with less adults.

In my book we need to take less notice of advancement and place it on participation.

We are only ever as good as our last meeting, we have to try and make every meeting great.

Kids leave when they are bored.

We can beat that!

Eamonn. 

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