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FrankBoss

Am I the only one?

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IIRC, the annual fee goes to National, which contributes no funds to fund council program.

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That's correct.  In most councils the registration fee goes to National.  The local council gets none of it.

The funding model for local councils is funny.  They provide the bulk of services to local units, but then generally raise money outside of the troops to support that.  I can only gather that there is a historical reason for this.

I don't love what this leads to.  Yes, I wish the council never asked for money. But, short of every family spending another $150 to pay for the council, I'm not sure what else to do.

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Regarding my neck of the woods, the PTB want us to budget 10% "miscellaneous" for any last minute unexpected stuff. Whatever is not used goes to the council coffers. In my experience with CSDC and camporees, something ALWAYS comes up last minute that the 10% misc helps. One year at day camp supplies were "diverted" to the main summer camp. Didn't realize this until after day camp was over. But off I went to get supplies at the local Hobby Lobby. At camporee this year, I had to buy of unexpected supplies since the DE double booked the camp with a Cub Scout event.  Yep, the flagging, signs, and stakes to keep Cubs out of Scouting areas, and vice versa, ate up a lot of that line item. 

But I was also on the other end, going in the red. My day camp was anticipated to go into the red $600 based upon the previous 3 years expenditures the first year I was PD.  I pinched so many pennies, that we were in the red less than $10. next year, we had a profit of a whopping $17 and change.

 

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2 hours ago, ParkMan said:

That's correct.  In most councils the registration fee goes to National.  The local council gets none of it.

The funding model for local councils is funny.  They provide the bulk of services to local units, but then generally raise money outside of the troops to support that.  I can only gather that there is a historical reason for this.

I don't love what this leads to.  Yes, I wish the council never asked for money. But, short of every family spending another $150 to pay for the council, I'm not sure what else to do.

The bulk of services - like 99% - is supplied by volunteers.  The money is raised by council to meet council payroll.  Our new SE tells us  that the model that most of the council employee time being devoted to raising funds for council is going to change to spending time on unit service.   

Alternative?  Follow the model of the rest of the world and spend lot's less on employees.  I once met the entire paid staff of a Canadian "district" that served more youth than my council - all four of them.  Windsor District.  Our council employed twenty-seven at the time with a couple of vacancies, spending 93% of its income on salaries and benefits..

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29 minutes ago, TAHAWK said:

The bulk of services - like 99% - is supplied by volunteers.  The money is raised by council to meet council payroll.  Our new SE tells us  that the model that most of the council employee time being devoted to raising funds for council is going to change to spending time on unit service.   

Alternative?  Follow the model of the rest of the world and spend lot's less on employees.  I once met the entire paid staff of a Canadian "district" that served more youth than my council - all four of them.  Windsor District.  Our council employed twenty-seven at the time with a couple of vacancies, spending 93% of its income on salaries and benefits..

In our council, we don't get 99% of the services from volunteers.  Yes, volunteers handle things like training, camporees, day camp, etc.  But, anything having to do with registration, Eagle paperwork, most Council Camp upkeep, and Summer Camp is done by professionals.  

I'd be game for that - let's cut the staff by 75%.  Here's my guess how that goes...

Our councils sound like they are similar in size.  We're a council of about  got about 26 professional staff at any given time.  Looking over the staff list, it looks like it breaks down as:
- Scout Executive
- 1 council registrar
- 2 office staff
- 2 finance and accounting
- 2 camp staff
- 2 in program support
- 12 in field service
- 4 in development

A 75% reduction would mean a staff of 24 becomes a staff of 6.5.  I'll round up to 7 people.  That becomes:
- Scout Executive
- 1 registrar/accountant/office staff
- 1 camp staff
- 1 in program support
- 3 in field service

I think we''d see a very different level of professional support from the council as a result.  I suspect our relationship with the council would become more like our relationship with National.  I'm just guessing, but I doubt we'd ever see a DE.  The DEs will all be focused on things like creating new units.  With no more development team, I think the days of free camping at council camps would end.  We might even see a council registration fee. 

The flip side, is that I think districts might actually flourish.  Today, our DE is really the glue that makes our district work.  Remove the DE and the district would struggle for a while.  Troops would have to begin to work together in a more concerted way if they wanted stuff like camporees to still happen.  Some would fail, but some would succeed.  That might actually be a bonus.

These are just my guesses.  But, again, I'd be willing to try and see.
 

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You seems to dismiss from the calculation all the work of all the Scouters and Cubbers in their units, without which there would be no paperwork to push.  Unless you drink the "hour a week" Kool Aid, that effort exceeds all paid hours, even if including hours devoted to raising funds for council, by orders of magnitude.  Our new SE says only units Scouting counts.  One hopes.

Ending the scandal of Council merit badge mills and rationalizing paperwork requirements would reduce the "Eagle paperwork" load that you mention.

Camp?  In our council, and many others (each of our bordering councils to my personal knowledge - and often participation), volunteers put in thousands of hours a year for camp upkeep, often buying the materials out of their own funds and supplying almost all the tools.  many are Union tradesmen - "professionals" in the correct sense of the word.  Camp McKinley, near us and used for its own summer camp by a troop I volunteered with, had a $0 maintenance and operating budget for three years and no ranger.  Yet the camp emerged in tremendously good condition.  Mere volunteers.  They renewed the septic bed BY HAND.  :confused: It was the "home" of a district and used heavily on weekends for camping (All sites in use often.).  They WOULD NOT let the camp fall to pieces, council to the contrary notwithstanding.  

In 2017 I put in over 400 hours recruiting volunteers for summer camp program, and served over 300 hours at camp delivering that program with dozens of other mere volunteers.  

We had no camp ranger at our council Scout summer camp for five months last year after the incumbent ranger, very good with fixing but poor with people (especially his superiors on the TofO), was discharged.  (There was also his habitual, loud and public use of the "F word" to modify "Scouter or "Scouters."  By using the camp, Scouters  and their units necessarily added to his work load, unlike the WIlderness Engineers who replace roofs and place pipelines. Ideally, we would have gotten the Camp in great shape and then closed the gate.)

I was with the same troop in my present council for 25 years.  I never once saw a council employee at the troop for any purpose. (I did the FOS presentations.)  I did see them as a district volunteer and I did ask the two ladies at the  Service Center front desk (Who knew everything bureaucratic that was worth knowing) how to do some stuff.  ( I miss one - just deceased - terribly, but the other happily came back after "retirement" to soldier on for a few more years.)  I valued several council employees.  Got to actually know only a few as they left so quickly and spent so little time with the district or unit Scouters.   One I did know is perhaps my best Scouting friend since my old patrol.  He retired at 25 years - earliest possible.  In short, all in all, council employees have not been a big part of my Scouting since 1981.  The same was true from 1954-1967 in California.  The California troop was eighteen years old when BSA arrived out there.  My longest hitch here was with a troop also founded in 1908 and four year old when BSA arrived in what became the Greater Cleveland District.  Scouting without B.S.A.  

As a district leader I had a choice of who to rely upon on issues of health at district events - a mere volunteer with a PhD in microbiology and another PhD in Public Health (Later worked for the WHO) or any of the DEs who passed through in an average of weeks.  Pioneering events?  George, who ran the pioneering at CanJam last year, or a newly-minted DE?  Legal issues?  The people who said I should report abuse only to the SE (In fairness, that bizarre direction came from National.), or the Ohio Revised Code, with which I, at least, was professionally aware?  I could go on.  We are relatively weak on bureaucracy, but, some of us, professional, if financially uncompensated, on unit and district program. 

In the rest of the world, our council would have two office/store employees (I did not count the BSA employees running our Scout Shop) and two field reps to help with starting new units and helping with interventions at "sick" units if asked.  All else is done by volunteers.  Somehow, with all the paid help, our membership plummets just like the bowling leagues and garden clubs.  In the UK, membership has been climbing smartly - without the massive personnel budgets - just those volunteers.

If we reduced to a world standard of payroll, most of our need for council funds would disappear.  Based on historic data, a 75% reduction  in salary and benefits expense translates into almost a 70%  reduction in my council's  general funds expenditure.  (Our  super and very professional "development" specialist has raised piles of money for capital expenditure as the Scouts of the Golden Age become the honored dead.  The camp has not had better physical facilities ever, so far as the oldest  memory can recall.)   

I am not advocating drastic change in how BSA staffs as we have enough change with which to deal.   And I do not see it happening soon, but those are the numbers and necessity may produce change will he nil he.

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I'm not sure the answer.  Again, I'm fine firing the council staff and trying your approach.  We struggle for district volunteers now, so I'm skeptical.  But let's try it.

It just really saddens me the culture that exists where everything council or professional is bad.  I think it's sad to treat a group of folks who have chosen to dedicate their careers to the movement like this.

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To be honest in my Council and District... "I Think" the culture of the office has turned bad. and it has leached in to the Districts..

Absolute little concern for Program or Volunteers from the professionals and a sole focus on income is a wicked problem...

We have no voice in district and council... If you have the wrong message even if it a constructive... your shut down and pushed out.

The saddest part for me was that we lost a lot of incredible volunteers over this...

FrankBoss

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13 hours ago, ParkMan said:

 I'm just guessing, but I doubt we'd ever see a DE. 

That alone would make it all worth it.

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3 hours ago, FrankBoss said:

To be honest in my Council and District... "I Think" the culture of the office has turned bad. and it has leached in to the Districts..

Absolute little concern for Program or Volunteers from the professionals and a sole focus on income is a wicked problem...

We have no voice in district and council... If you have the wrong message even if it a constructive... your shut down and pushed out.

The saddest part for me was that we lost a lot of incredible volunteers over this...

FrankBoss

Yup. This mirrors what we seen locally.

Our RTs are boring and the waste of paper on the announcements table would make a recyclist have a seizure. When it was suggested that all of that paper could be sent via pdf or posted easily online, the DC said, "Then what would our DE do?". Someone quipped, "Train UCs or visit units in trouble to actually help them?". That unit was given the graveyard location for popcorn sales and the "rough neighborhood" for SFF. They stopped participating in SFF, popcorn and FOS as a result.

Edited by Col. Flagg
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17 minutes ago, MattR said:

But getting back to the OP. The question every council and national employee should be asking them self every day is whether what they're doing helps each CM and SM deliver fun and adventure. If all they come up with is it's important that every scout memorize the USDA My Plate diagram then they're failing and adding no value. Come up with some honestly fun activities that a unit leader can use out of the box and then there's value added. If all these parts were supporting the CMs and SMs then the money problems would fix themselves.

I think many can get behind all of this.

The reality -- and I think the point of the OP -- is that culturally, BSA at the national and local levels, have created such a problem for themselves that they cannot possibly reach your excellent vision of what is needed. Why? They are too busy doing their usual stuff -- stuff needed to keep the juggernaut afloat -- that they don't have time to stop bailing to work on the ideas you suggest.

I suspect this is the very reason why many of us have decided to focus on our units and not do anything with council and national. 

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7 hours ago, ParkMan said:

I'm not sure the answer.  Again, I'm fine firing the council staff and trying your approach.  We struggle for district volunteers now, so I'm skeptical.  But let's try it.

It just really saddens me the culture that exists where everything council or professional is bad.  I think it's sad to treat a group of folks who have chosen to dedicate their careers to the movement like this.

It is not "my" approach.  It is the approach everywhere except the U.S.  I do raise the question of whether Scouting, as distinct from BSA,  gets it's money's worth from West's approach.  If we stopped hiring the council staff would fall by half in a year - no firing required.  (Well, one respected DD came back after two years at a higher level, but quit again after six months.)

Had West gotten everything he wanted, all Scoutmasters would be council employees. 

The culture where everything council is "bad" is a minority culture.  Most volunteers judge council decisions and employee's on an individual basis.  But a series of "clunker" decisions or people will produce a culture of suspicion, and it probably should. "Fooled me once, shame on you.  Fooled me twice, shame on me."  Example: I was promised certain changes as a condition of agreeing to a major additional commitment of time last Summer.  The changes were promised as of September 1, 2017.  Still waiting, but more leery about future commitments.  Capiche?

One problem I see is Scouters who spend almost all their energy and time complaining about council or National to the extent that they are not doing their jobs.  The vast bulk of the service is volunteer work, and what council or BSA does or does not do is no excuse for failing to do our jobs.  After all, BSA did not start Scouting in the US.  For Example, every Scoutmaster is now empowered in The Guide to Advancement to torpedo merit badges that cannot, in fact, have been properly earned, signed Blue Card or not.  So the solution to the summer camp merit badge mills - Personal Management in 250 hours over five days - is in the hands of the volunteers, subspecies "Unit leader."

A "Professional" is great, just not to be confused as synonymous with  "employee."   Some employees are pros and some are not.  A title does not equal competency or designate who leads - one of Bill's points about appointed Patrol Leaders.  Most, but not all, of the real professionals I have seen have been volunteers.  Bill was a "professional" and a professional.  He was also a paid volunteer - that is he thought like a volunteer, wore the volunteer's field uniform, was a Scoutmaster, liked to interact with volunteers, and kept on Scouting after "retirement" until his death at 92.

My favorite Bill story.  In 1985 we had a tri-council camporee to celebrate the 77th anniversary of Scouting - well, really, the 75th anniversary of BSA.  Bill, retired from BSA for sixteen years,  attended the entire event.  The Saturday night show was in the blowing rain - mid 40's.  A pavilion was erected for the "professionals" as the Scouts and adult volunteers sat in the mud and misty rain.  Although repeatedly summoned, Bill would not go under the pavilion.  He stood in his red (volunteer) jacshirt, olive drab shorts,  and campaign hat in the rain.  When the head "professional" sent an underling out with a golf umbrella to shelter Bill, he kept moving laterally out from under it.  This was noted by the Scouts; a wave of whispering swept the seated crowd: "Look at Bill."  Finally, all the big shots came out from the pavilion -- but each with an underling with an umbrella.  With them, this business of solidarity with the Scouts and volunteers only went so far.

Our SPL allmost had his heart explode.  Bill was wearing our troop's red paisley neckerchief, gifted to him by a young Scout earlier that day.

Most, please note "most," - DEs who talked to me about why they joined BSA - several dozen - have told me, face-to-face, that they took the job for lack of any other choice and were actively looking for a "better" job.  By "most" I mean all but four of that several dozen (the four are examples of what I call "the Golden 10%"). If they are being accurate, that means that natural selection leaves us with many otherwise unemployable "professionals" - good only at council/BSA bureaucracy.  The marketplace made their career decision for them.  Even dedicated council employees may leave out of duty to their families.  When performers, 10% or not, find that "better job," their leaving is regretted by those who pay attention and understand.  The loss of the 10% is absolutely mourned by the aware. ("Remember Tom, our DE back in 1983-82?" I was asked last Saturday.   Darn right I remember!)  Over the years,  my district alone has lost three very strong and dedicate DE's. - great Scouters and great people.  One transferred to escape our dysfunctional SE and ended up as No. 2 in a vary large urban council.  The other two left BSA, and one left Scouting.  They each told me they absolutely needed more income and more family time.  

It is certainly the case here that it is hard to find enough volunteer hours - as it is for Masonic charities, PTA, and Red Cross.

Brighten the corner where you are.  Do what you can as well as you can.  Thank your fellow volunteers and all the good council employees for their work as you may be the only one extending thanks.

I would thank our respected DE at tonight's meeting, but he was discharged last week for questioning receive wisdom.

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11 hours ago, ParkMan said:

I'm not sure the answer.  Again, I'm fine firing the council staff and trying your approach.  We struggle for district volunteers now, so I'm skeptical.  But let's try it.

It just really saddens me the culture that exists where everything council or professional is bad.  I think it's sad to treat a group of folks who have chosen to dedicate their careers to the movement like this.

Everything council is bad. They're the bad guys.

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17 hours ago, David CO said:

Everything council is bad. They're the bad guys.

That's a big brush. In my own small way, in my own small corner of the BSA universe I'm trying to make a difference. I'm the new district camping chair. I put the kabosh on a change the last guy did as nobody ever asked the SMs what they wanted. I'm pushing hard to get scout input for what the camporees should include. At klondike last weekend I had said the scouts want more patrol vs patrol competition and I was told that was a bad idea as it's hard to match patrols for equal sizes, ages, abilities. So rather than fight it I said let's have an experiment. In the morning we'll do the old model of patrols competing against themselves and in the afternoon it will be patrol vs patrol. The scouts loved it. They were hollering and screaming and practicing. I gave them ribbons for scout spirit, teamwork, and scoring in the morning events. For the patrol vs patrol the winner got bragging rights only. They had fun and one parent, that couldn't go, called me Sunday night and thanked me.

I also know nobody is going to complain enough to fire me as nobody else is around to take the job. Maybe your council has enough volunteers to form some hard cliques but we will take anyone.

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