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Colonial Va Council troubles

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Interesting. I think I agree. We had a district event the other night. I was a chance for the Cub Scouts to meet the troops and talk to them. Think convention table top displays. It reminded me of rushing a fraternity when I was in college. The troops were out in force trying to reel Webelos in to talk. Most were talking AT kids/parents rather than asking them what questions they had. My guys just answered questions. I could hear parents complaining that they were overwhelmed.

 

How does hit relate to council? The district and council people present took the opportunity to chat up the troop leaders there trying to get them to bump up their JTE numbers, sign up for WB, volunteer for a committee, etc. Both them and the troop leaders were more concerned with the whole "business of scouting" rather than the people that make up scouting: the kids and the parents.

 

As I was leaving this nice lady came by and said that my guys were the nicest to their kids and we were the only troop that "seemed to care about the parents and the kids". While I was happy to hear that I was saddened that 25+ troops and a dozen district/council folks were cast in such a bad light in front of 150+ Cubs and their parents. If this is representative of what is happening in other councils/districts it is no small wonder things like this happen in councils eventually.

 

Actually, @@Krampus, we used to do this in our district and we got a lot of Webelos this way.  Most of the troops would actually have an activity for the boys to do rather than just talking at them and then the adult leaders could answer any questions about the troop the parents had.  It was a very well done program.  We hadn't done it for awhile and I suggested to our Unit Commissioner how useful that was.  She mentioned something to the district/council powers that be and they decided to try something again this year.  However, we just got notice of it and it is in 3 weeks.  Not sure how much attendance from either Webelos or troops we will get.

 

I guess my point on this was that something like this can be very good if done the right way.

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Why Don't we do that?

 

Our professional Scouters work for us, not for themselves.

 

I think it would be a great idea if we made it part of the job requirments that each month the council executive / ceo go on an outdoor activity with one of the troops from the council. See how it is really done. What boys are really like. What resources our leaders really have available. How well (or not) is our Boy led program going. Mix it up with different troop sizes, locations served, types of activities.

 

Who really selects Council executives anyway? Is it the membership, or the corporate sponsors board of directors? How can we get this to be a part of the program?

 

In the nine years I worked on Summer Camp Staff, the CE would only come to camp for one day - the day of the national inspections, to walk along with the inspectors - they were usually out of camp before dinner (Although in case they weren't the quality of food that day was much better).

 

 

The reality is, scouting is a program that is sold by marketers and sales people who work for a paycheck. The rest of us volunteer to implement the program

That's not exactly true. Professionals do not work for volunteers. No volunteers name was ever on my paycheck... Professionals are employed by a council, national service center or supply division.

 

In regards to making it mandatory to go camping I can't say I agree with this. I do agree professionals at all levels should be aware of all aspects of the program but that does not mean the scout executive or a development director need to sit by a camp fire or attend a den leader. They are paid to do specific jobs and need to spend their time doing those jobs. It's good to think of it this way. When I worked for the BSA I lived and breathed scouting. Every day at work and some weeks every night and then the weekend. When I did have a free weekend it was spent on me, my family, my friends. The last thing on earth I would want to do on a free weekend would be scouting related. Imagine your own job. If you had to spend your free time at work that might not be very enjoyable. That does not mean you hate your work, it just means there needs to be some time for you.

 

That said I can remember back to being a new District executive and I contacted a troop about an FOS date. It's was my job do do so. The SM had never had a positive experience with the council and I was just a "professional desk jockey" in his opinion. He did not know I was an Eagle Scout, loved the program and chose to make my living supporting the program. Anyway long story short he invited me camping with his troop over a holiday weekend knowing I would say no just to prove his point of disdain. So I showed up at the campsite that weekend, they were in a cabin. I set up my tent and spent the weekend. It was fun. I got hell from my girlfriend about missing the holiday. For the rest of my time in that council that SM began supporting our efforts, not just troop, or town efforts but scouting a efforts in the county. It was great but also sad that I had to do that in order for him to change his attitude toward my colleagues.

 

My job was ny go camping but that did not mean I did not understand the program. I can't speak for folks that work in positions above a district director where I left from. Maybe the top people do become disconnected but from the people I know at the national service center, many know why they do the job they do and value scouting and its members. Customer service is another way of saying a scout is kind. I don't think it's fake when employees show interest in volunteers and scouts. Unfortunately professionals have to ask those annoying questions volunteers do not like, when's is for foS date, can you help with an event etc. it's their job to foster greater volunteerism.

 

 

Scoutings strength is that it is a volunteer implemented program. It's the job of the professionals to encourage that, grow it, cultivate it, steward it. I believe if professionals were not there those things would not happen or a larger scale. Sure scouting could exist locally but it would be smaller. The reasons scouting is successful or events like camporees and jamborees are successful is the partnership between all levels of scouting employee and volunteer alike.

Edited by ProScouter06
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@@ProScouter06,

 

I don't sign the President's paycheck either, but the common conception is that the President (is supposed to) work for the citizenry.

 

Similarly, the Professional Scouting staff is supposed to serve at the will of the membership; although in practice, I don't think a membership mechanism exists to remove them.

 

Now, don't get me wrong; almost all of the Professional Scouters I have worked with have, at the very least, had their hearts in the right place; the only exceptions being when I was a Program/Camp director and directly interacted with the Council Exec and Assistant in a Council that no longer exists - they seemed to be looking for every possible angle to sell a camp and pocket a bonus.

 

I do not doubt that the Professionals have a lot to do.  I do not propose "overtime" weekend camping,at least not as such.  When my staff has to work a weekend, they get other time off.  But I cannot believe that the overall scouting program and experience would be better if the higher levels of the professional staff, by design and contract, needed to have more direct contacts with the units, volunteers, and Scouts that they were hired to serve.

 

How much more time would the professionals have if they weren't always chasing donations?  It seems, as an outsider to professional service, that most of the professional's time is spent trying to get their own payroll covered.  I have yet to see an actual true breakdown of the "administration costs" for running the council, and how much of the various donations get lost in that bucket.

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I can't speak for the council in question, but having been in several different councils, I would never use the word "family" to describe the relationship between council and units.  

 

Some councils were good to the units, some so-so, some outright disdainful.   But never family.  

 

Perhaps the hour is late and I'm tired, but when I read the pitch for donations to keep the "family" in business, I thought of a distant relative calling me at midnight asking for money.  

 

The kind of relative that has nothing to do with you.   Until he needs money.

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.

I think it would be a great idea if we made it part of the job requirments that each month the council executive / ceo go on an outdoor activity with one of the troops from the council.  See how it is really done.  What boys are really like.  What resources our leaders really have available.  How well (or not) is our Boy led program going.  Mix it up with different troop sizes, locations served, types of activities.

 

Gumby, I agree, it is a great idea.   But the truth is many pros are better off staying away, for the good of the pro and the unit.  They won't fit in, or they'll try to boss everyone around.   Or both.

Edited by desertrat77

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I guess I should defend the pros in my council.  The top guys have scout age sons and camp with their troops.  The DEs camp at the District Camporees, and most Scout Execs have to make their bones running and living at a summer camp for a few summers on their way up the ladder.

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I had a couple really great talks with our council's Director of Field Service last year while our sons were working on their round robin activities at a council campout. I think it was the WEBELOS AKELA weekend....

 

I'd say he was genuinely a nice guy and trying to right by his WEBELOS aged son.....  He struck me as as an old average "dad the business man" that's involved in scouting.  I have no idea how good he does his job.  As unit level scouter, I feel very out of touch to what those folks are doing.... One thing I noted was his surprise at some of my opinions about the program... nothing earth shattering, and I can't remember for sure what it was...  Regardless, my point is that he was a nice guy but by no means was he any sort of super scouter.  I enjoyed getting to know him a little bit.

 

Another comment about the previous posts regarding professional scouters and the disconnect.

I have had the opinion that many of them are misguided.  As Proscouter06 pointed out, their jobs aren't to go camping.  I would argue that it might be a better program if their jobs were refocused as to get into the trenches a bit more.  I would like to see the low level pros more involved in things like facilitating training.  

Instead of relying on volunteers (who have other non-related jobs and no time to do it right) to do all of the coordinating, arranging for rooms and supplies, setting agendas, and the rest of it involved with putting on say a BALOO course.... I say let the pros do it.  Sure, let the experienced volunteers be the brains behind content and even be the presenters, but give those volunteers with so little time available support by facilitating these things.  I'd guess we could end up with more consistency and maybe a better program..... ONe Program

 
Now all that being said, I don't disagree with DavidCO
 

I could not disagree more.  Scouting would be far better off if we were an all volunteer organization.

 

The structure of the organization, the complex and sometimes unrealistic or out of touch rules, and the rest of it... all do a disservice to the program and do get in the way.  There is just too much business, and I'd guess too many meetings and committees going on up at national.

 

My personal opinion is a downsize to a more limited and refocused professional organization could do wonders....

 

Oh, and we need a Bear Grylls type at the head of it all to get a weekly TV show where he's routinely doing really cool and exciting stuff.... rappelling, caving, making survival shelters, and the like... all while wearing the Scout uniform.  Someone for boys to latch onto as a hero of sorts.... "Wow, I want to be like him!"

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@@gumbymaster professionals are not spending their time chasing donations. To think that way and to spread that assumption is harmful to Scouting volunteers and employees alike. Also I’d suggest calling your council to ask for a breakdown of the budget. I’m sure they would invite you in to share. You may not get a hardcopy but they can discuss it. We were always happy to as it cleared up misconceptions. 

 

Here is a professional scouters year in a nut shell. This is based on my experiences and the experience of others in the Northeast Region.  This may be known to most of you, but maybe it’s not and will help give a slight look into the job.

 

January-March- This is FOS season. The FOS campaign is a massive undertaking with a huge amount of time for a relatively small return. These dollars are critical for camperships, financial aid and operating costs. However, it is usually a small part of the budget, maybe 10% in most councils. Probably not even worth the time and heavy lifting it takes, but that was never up to me. In order to be successful one must coordinate with hundreds of volunteers, recruit volunteers to do presentations and then support them through these months, often covering and filling in. Also time to start preparing for the spring. It’s a busy month with a lot of pressure. It’s frowned upon to take vacation during this time. (While also attending round tables, commissioner meetings, district meetings, unit meetings primarily for troubled units which creates more time intensive needs, recruiting volunteers for events, setting up events, working with vendors, scheduling training, logistics for events etc... Meeting with potential sponsoring organizations, looking for new sponsors, answering calls with questions from uniforms, to events, to trouble with a den leader etc... all with a smile).

 

April-June- This is spring recruitment season. Working with hundreds of volunteers, school, principals, superintendents etc… Getting materials out and encouraging units to participate, often against their wishes because why take kids in the spring when there is no summer program. A good argument but one that your boss will tell you to ignore, or suggest you ask them to have a summer program, because they are volunteers and have all the time in the work right? Not really. You are also wrapping up for FOS campaign because you did not meet your goal, and your boss is telling you this does not look good for your performance… Ok, maybe summer will be better. It’s time to start finalizing the plans for summer camp. (While also attending round tables, commissioner meetings, district meetings, unit meetings primarily for troubled units which creates more time intensive needs, recruiting volunteers for events, setting up events, working with vendors, scheduling training, logistics for events etc... Meeting with potential sponsoring organizations, looking for new sponsors, answering calls with questions from uniforms, to events, to trouble with a den leader etc... all with a smile).

 

July-August- Summer is here! The best part of scouting is to see it in the outdoors happening. You can finally put on shorts, and enjoy the weather with your “scouting family†you have no time for your own family because you are at day camp from 7 am to 7 pm, or living at a boy scout resident camp for 8 weeks, with one half day off for laundry. But the scouts and leaders are having fun so it’s all worth the sacrifice. It’s also time to start planning for the fall recruitment drive. You are expected to have all of your rally dates ready by end of August, so when you get home each night make sure you make your phone calls. It’s also frowned upon to take vacation in the summer. (While also recruiting volunteers for events, setting up events, working with vendors, scheduling training, logistics for events etc... Meeting with potential sponsoring organizations, looking for new sponsors, answering calls with questions from uniforms, to events, to trouble with a den leader etc... all with a smile).

 

September-November- Fall recruitment season, same as spring but busier. Hundreds of leaders, schools, various school districts, logistics, materials over hundreds of miles of territory again. Every unit leader you speak to has a problem that needs answered and your the professional you should know everything. Don’t dare try to answer quick bc then you don’t care and clearly must just be looking for a donation somewhere which is why you can stay to hear about the dean leader who won’t wear her uniform. Anyway back to the fall, if you’re good, you go to as many rallies as possible to support volunteers, not hound them for applications. They told me to do that but IMO volunteers had more to worry about that the application that night. I’d get them when they were ready the following week. This month = lots of fast food, lots of fuel costs, and little time to be home. Sure your lawn needs cutting and fall cleanup, but not time, sorry… We are also in popcorn season so that takes a ton of time and effort. It’s frowned upon to take vacation during the fall. But the holidays are around the corner, maybe you can take some time off then. (While also recruiting volunteers for events, setting up events, working with vendors, scheduling training, logistics for events etc... Meeting with potential sponsoring organizations, looking for new sponsors, answering calls with questions from uniforms, to events, to trouble with a den leader etc... all with a smile).

 

December- The most wonderful time of the year, or so you thought…. You did not make your membership goal, so your boss says unless you do, no vacation time this month, and no days off except December 25. So you hit the pavement trying to recruit more kids, for units that do not want them because they started their program in September and these kids will be behind, so you are fighting a losing battle. (While also recruiting volunteers for events, setting up events, working with vendors, scheduling training, logistics for events etc... Meeting with potential sponsoring organizations, looking for new sponsors, answering calls with questions from uniforms, to events, to trouble with a den leader etc... all with a smile)

Then the year starts again, and every year is almost identical to the last. You get into a rhythm. Some get jaded, I did. Some make it long enough to get out of the field, and start a family, you can’t do that in the field, or it’s hard to do it. Many get divorced along the way. But ti me we are in the trenches, not the fun trenches. I wish I could spend my time with one unit, and go camping and face the good times and bad in one town and one unit, but the professional does not have that luxury. They are in the trenches, just a different kind of trench.

 

This is why I can’t say I agree that camping should be mandatory. Like I said we lived and breathed it every day. It’s also why I am of the belief that the success of scouting (on a larger scale not down to the weekly unit meeting) depends of volunteers and professionals working hand in hand for a common purpose. It makes it more fun that way when we are in it together and when we both understand the struggles and challenges each group faces. (Of course there are bad applies on both sides which ruin this concept but I’m an idealist and a realist) However a mutual respect is badly needed. Perception is reality and new generations of scouters being told that professionals only chase donations will be quickly tainted and the misconceptions will continue.

 

 

@@blw2 agreed a refocus of the job would be great. Professionals have to complete the job they are asked, and it can only be changed from the top down. But I won’t hold my breath. Scouting is slowing losing ground everywhere which only increases the pressures of the business. I knew some old professionals who worked in the 1950’s and 60’s. They did have the luxury of camping more, but their jobs changed over the years as volunteers became less available due to work and family and so the job changed. There is no way on earth they could take on more than they already do.

 

Also we do need a Bear Grylls! We need to get back I the spotlight to feature the great things scouting does in every corner of the nation. 

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thank you @@ProScouter06 for taking the time to type that up.  

It's pretty much what I have imagined after almost 5 years of volunteering....

I assume it's from the perspective of DE or maybe one step or so above that.

 

Regardless..... what I see in every step through the year are a bunch of non-helpful goals, pressures, and requirements from the professional side....

 

the majority of those pressures really don't seem to do much to make a better program for the boy.... except maybe one could argue the fundraising push to get money to pay for the council camps and programs..... but nobody on our end want to hear another FOS pitch.  We're already giving our money and even more valuable time, in support of the BSA.

 

These pressures or job descriptions, from my perspective anyway, are so very misguided from where they should be.  It's clear to me (my assumptions) that someone up high somewhere in professional scouter land and a series of very long meetings to make some of those directions....

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Why Don't we do that?

 

Our professional Scouters work for us, not for themselves.

No, they don't work for you.

 

They work for the Council Board of Directors.  In turn, the BOD works for the Voting Members of the Council:  That comprises the whole of all the Chartered Organization Representatives in the Council.  Your local Council, as mine, is a non-profit corporation registered under the laws of your State and chartered by the Boy Scouts of America National Council.  Each of the Directors has a fiduciary duty.

 

Like most corporations, the BOD has the authority to operate in the name of the voters during any recess of a membership meeting.

Edited by John-in-KC

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No, they don't work for you.

 

They work for the Council Board of Directors.  Your local Council, as mine, is a non-profit corporation registered under the laws of your State and chartered by the Boy Scouts of America National Council.  Each of the Directors has a fiduciary duty.

 

As a non-profit corporation aren't they chartered with one of three specific purposes: 1) to serve a public interest, 2) to serve a specific group of individuals or 3) the non-profit's membership?

 

So wouldn't we (members) be in category 2 or 3?

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Anyone who followed the Owasippe situation in Chicago a few years back got a real eye opener.  The chartered organizations refused to vote in the Board of Directors slated by national.  The execs at national responded by threatening to pull the councils charter.

 

Yes, on paper, the chartered organizations vote in the council BOD, who then hire the executives. In reality, the execs choose the slate for the BOD.

 

We need to have real elections.  We need to have real oversight of the executives.  We might even learn that we don't really need the executives.

Edited by David CO

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