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PACAN

Fee increase - observations

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11 hours ago, PACAN said:

The Franchise model the BSA uses which traps units in poorly run councils/districts needs to go.    Why not let units sign on with councils for service with any council that provides them with better than they get locally, in other words get councils to earn your business by treating you as a customer...not the other way around

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23 minutes ago, walk in the woods said:

I don't have enough thumbs to thumbs up this!

To paraphrase Captain Ramius . Give him a thumb. One thumb only, please.  :)

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How much does Scouting cost in the USA? i've seen some stories that fees have increased, but by how much?

 

from a UK Scouter's  side of things,  ( using an online currency conversion) we have an annual Youth member charge  of US$50  which goes to District, and then form that to Headquarters ( national)

As a Scout troop we charge youth members US$135 a year, split in to three terms at US45 each term

and a weekend camp ( Friday evening- Sunday afternoon/early evening) costs roughly US$50

We provide tents for camping in, but not camping equipment ( sleeping bags clothing footwear etc)

We also provide badges and books, parents have to provide uniform items ( ie Scout shirt)

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2 hours ago, Pint said:

How much does Scouting cost in the USA? i've seen some stories that fees have increased, but by how much?

 

from a UK Scouter's  side of things,  ( using an online currency conversion) we have an annual Youth member charge  of US$50  which goes to District, and then form that to Headquarters ( national)

As a Scout troop we charge youth members US$135 a year, split in to three terms at US45 each term

and a weekend camp ( Friday evening- Sunday afternoon/early evening) costs roughly US$50

We provide tents for camping in, but not camping equipment ( sleeping bags clothing footwear etc)

We also provide badges and books, parents have to provide uniform items ( ie Scout shirt)

One data point for you - my troop.

$75 to the unit (we spent $220 per scout last year but fundraisers covered about half of that)

$200 to our district (most districts are around $40, and I just found out ours is a very strong armed "suggestion")

$15 per campout, except district run campouts which are $30

$350-$400 for summer camp (and anywhere from $350-$1200 for a high adventure trip)

$15 for Merit badge event

Gear and such sounds the same as us.

 

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On 11/2/2019 at 6:41 PM, shortridge said:

If we’re thinking Big Thoughts, I’d also propose a total end to the commissioner staff. I haven’t encountered a district yet that doesn’t struggle with attracting and retaining commissioners, let alone that uses that staff to support units properly. If we have people who want to be involved in Scouting, then put them to work directly with units as ASMs or MCs, or at the district level working on camporees, training, advancement, or camping promotion - direct program delivery, not as “consultants.” Don’t waste good bodies on a vague and usually useless organizational element that very few people understand.

I hugely agree.  The unit commissioner program should be dissolved.  I've seen districts so desperate to fulfill commissioner number requirements that any warm body is signed up.  District committee staff.  Former unit members with grievances or agendas looking for a title.  No show commissioners.  ... Sadly when they do show up, I've seen a few that over-step their boundaries.  To be honest, I've NEVER seen a unit commissioner that really helps.  If there is an issue, it goes to the district exec or a senior district staffer (district chair, advancement chair, etc).  

Here are two ideas I've had ... 

  • Create a mentor ship program where one unit can mentor another.  Maybe as part of being a "quality unit" we ask units to send one unit leader to another unit where they might help mentor and send another to a unit that they might learn from.  Some of the times I've learned the most are when I've attended a meeting of another troop and can learn how they function.  Sometimes a camp out.  Sometimes a committee meeting.  Sometimes just a normal troop meting.  
  • Create a unit service committee on the district committee. 
    • Problem ... Right now, units have to work with district camping staff, advancement staff and others for info.  Units work with their commissioners to hand in budgets, calendars, etc.  Commissioners then pop in with advice, but really can't help.  
    • Short concept
      • Triage to put the right people together.  
      • First point of contact
    • Say a subcommittee of five members.  One chair.  Two for each "type" of unit.   This eliminates looking for warm bodies or getting stuck with quirky or grievanced former unit scouters.  Also, this could be a very meaningful role for the sage older scouter to volunteer in.  It could be a key feature of the district commitee.  And, it could protect and off-load work from the district exec.  

 

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6 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

I hugely agree.  The unit commissioner program should be dissolved.  I've seen districts so desperate to fulfill commissioner number requirements that any warm body is signed up.  District committee staff.  Former unit members with grievances or agendas looking for a title.  No show commissioners.  ... Sadly when they do show up, I've seen a few that over-step their boundaries.  To be honest, I've NEVER seen a unit commissioner that really helps.  If there is an issue, it goes to the district exec or a senior district staffer (district chair, advancement chair, etc).  

Here are two ideas I've had ... 

  • Create a mentor ship program where one unit can mentor another.  Maybe as part of being a "quality unit" we ask units to send one unit leader to another unit where they might help mentor and send another to a unit that they might learn from.  Some of the times I've learned the most are when I've attended a meeting of another troop and can learn how they function.  Sometimes a camp out.  Sometimes a committee meeting.  Sometimes just a normal troop meting.  
  • Create a unit service committee on the district committee. 
    • Problem ... Right now, units have to work with district camping staff, advancement staff and others for info.  Units work with their commissioners to hand in budgets, calendars, etc.  Commissioners then pop in with advice, but really can't help.  
    • Short concept
      • Triage to put the right people together.  
      • First point of contact
    • Say a subcommittee of five members.  One chair.  Two for each "type" of unit.   This eliminates looking for warm bodies or getting stuck with quirky or grievanced former unit scouters.  Also, this could be a very meaningful role for the sage older scouter to volunteer in.  It could be a key feature of the district commitee.  And, it could protect and off-load work from the district exec.  

 

Hmm. 

I think you are working the symptoms, not the disease.

The reason some districts struggle with commissioners is because they recruited people who don't have the skills for the expectations. There are plenty of capable scouters out there that would love the responsibility, but they aren't being recruited or trained. Blame that on who you want, but isn't a unit service committee just another group of people with the expectations of helping units perform better? Doesn't matter what you call them, what is important is finding the right talent for the expectations. If District can't recruit a performing Commissioner Corp, how are they going to recruit a performing service committee? 

Same goes with the mentor-ship program; it is a great idea that requires the right people to direct the program toward the vision. 

Barry

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1 minute ago, Eagledad said:

I think you are working the symptoms, not the disease.  

Not sure. I've been thinking about this for 10+ years.   I've been a key unit leader for 18 years.  Effectively never having seen a commissioner in action. 

 

1 minute ago, Eagledad said:

If District can't recruit a performing Commissioner Corp, how are they going to recruit a performing service committee? 

Unit commissioners are supposed to be one per charter org (one pack, one troop, one crew).   That can be 20+ commissioners in a district.  You will NEVER get that many quality volunteers well coordinated doing the same function.  A tight knit crew of experts to triage only those units needing help would be easier to staff as it would have a well-defined purpose and volunteers tend to stick around for that. 

 

 

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1 minute ago, fred8033 said:

Unit commissioners are supposed to be one per charter org (one pack, one troop, one crew).   That can be 20+ commissioners in a district.  You will NEVER get that many quality volunteers well coordinated doing the same function.  A tight knit crew of experts to triage only those units needing help would be easier to staff as it would have a well-defined purpose and volunteers tend to stick around for that. 

Just because you haven't seen it work doesn't mean it isn't being done. You just haven't seen it done right. We can go into details of how it should be done, but I still think you are just renaming the committee because don't understand how the commissioners should work.

AND, I don't think you are seeing the real problem of recruiting the right people for the job. Look at your statement "This eliminates looking for warm bodies or getting stuck with quirky or grievanced former unit scouters.  Also, this could be a very meaningful role for the sage older scouter to volunteer in." Quirky grieved former unit scouters? Where did they come from? Recruited? Where do sage older scouters come from? Recruited? 

Fix the problem because you aren't changing the issue even with a new committee. Then if you want to try a new idea, at least you are starting from a working position.

Barry

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8 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Fix the problem because you aren't changing the issue even with a new committee. Then if you want to try a new idea, at least you are starting from a working position.

Problems need to be understood so that we can move on.  At some point though, we need to cut bait on a concept / structure / program that just isn't working 90% or more of the time.  I'm sure there are some districts that magically make it work.  But I've yet to see one in a really long time.  

From what I see is that unit commissioner is such a low involvement position that quality people won't stay in it and are then recruited into or find a better way to spend their time. 

I think the unit commissioner program is a direct reflection on BSA's bigger problem.  The inability to cut programs that don't work and that hurt BSA's reputation as a quality program.  Where is there the leadership to acknowledge the unit commissioner program is dysfunctional and needs to be disbanded.  This would make room for new ideas that might work ... like a unit-to-unit mentoring program or a district unit triage staff.  

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18 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

Problems need to be understood so that we can move on.  At some point though, we need to cut bait on a concept / structure / program that just isn't working 90% or more of the time.  I'm sure there are some districts that magically make it work.  But I've yet to see one in a really long time.  

From what I see is that unit commissioner is such a low involvement position that quality people won't stay in it and are then recruited into or find a better way to spend their time. 

I think the unit commissioner program is a direct reflection on BSA's bigger problem.  The inability to cut programs that don't work and that hurt BSA's reputation as a quality program.  Where is there the leadership to acknowledge the unit commissioner program is dysfunctional and needs to be disbanded.  This would make room for new ideas that might work ... like a unit-to-unit mentoring program or a district unit triage staff.  

Well, we will just have to agree to disagree. As someone who has created and killed several district and council programs, I have a pretty good understanding of the dynamics for successes and failures. Curing the disease is far easier than creating new programs to attack a symptom. If the cause isn't fixed, not only has one program been killed for the wrong reason, the new one ends up with the same symptoms.

Barry

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56 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Well, we will just have to agree to disagree. As someone who has created and killed several district and council programs, I have a pretty good understanding of the dynamics for successes and failures. Curing the disease is far easier than creating new programs to attack a symptom. If the cause isn't fixed, not only has one program been killed for the wrong reason, the new one ends up with the same symptoms.

Barry

You are right.  Sometimes it's best to agree to disagree. 

Failures and problems can easily be re-created in a new form.  Knowing what happened is critical to avoiding it again.  Many projects in my career have had a close-out review.  The term varies depending on the "type of" close out.  Retrospective.  Postmortem.   Often, it's a required step in the project mgmt life cycle.  I fully agree that should be done with the unit commissioner program.

I fear we are mushing how to change with the fact that change needs to happen.  Perhaps a retrospective on unit commissioner programs would help.  I've been watching it for many many years.  Sadly, I'm ready to jump to the conclusion that it can't be saved.  We need to destroy it and create something new.  But perhaps, it can be saved / re-engineered.  

The key point though is the unit commissioner service is not anywhere near a quality program in most districts.  

 

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As an administrative subdivision of the Council, the most pressure on a district and its leadership comes from its responsibility for two functions:  (1) raise its share of the Council operating budget each year, through Friends of Scouting, special fundraising events (a golf tournament or  awards dinner), and participation of units in the Council-approved fundraisers (such as popcorn sales); and (2) recruit (largely through units) its share of new members.  Those are areas of need where the Council is heavily dependent on existing units:  units and unit members are the source of a lot of the funds raised, and recruitment largely happens in units and through unit efforts.  The flip side of that are other district functions designed to support and serve units, such as leader training, Roundtable, Unit Commissioners, and district-wide program activities such as camporees. 

Units do have a need for many different kinds of support and resources that typically are not readily available within the unit or chartered organization.  For example:  meeting space (if not available from CO); uniforms, equipment, publications, supplies; camping and activity locations; summer camps, high adventure opportunities, and other program experiences beyond the standard unit campout or other recurring unit activity; adult leader training; advanced youth leader training; registration, advancement, and award administration, instruction, and guidance; and people to talk to about unit operations to get answers, tips, experiences, and different perspectives.  

In many cases, the units and the district need the same things, such as rechartering (units need to be official, and the district needs as many units as it can legitimately get), or correct advancement records, or good membership recruitment.  But my observation is that with other needs, there is a net imbalance, whether real or perceived:  The district needs what the units can provide (such as money, unit assessments, Journey to Excellence score sheets, attendance at training and Roundtable and events) more than the units need what the district can provide.  The value of what units provide to the district is greater than the value of the services that the district provides to units.  And that gap would be there even if the district had outstanding training, Roundtables, administrative support, activities, and Unit Commissioners.  And regardless of how the district was organized or who the people are, as long as its functions remain the same. 

Yet, there is supposed to be a gap -- but in the other direction.  Units are where Scouting happens.  Units should expect to get much more direct help and value from the greater Scouting organization than they are directly giving to that organization.

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