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walk in the woods

National Leadership, Surbaugh Leave of Absense

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31 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

Take a good look at what districts and councils and BSA National does.  How much value does it add to unit programs?

At our District level, camporees have added a lot of value.  Our Klondike, our on by district, is a Troop favorite.

Council level summer camps, merit badge clinics (some) and a variety of partnerships with local universities and professional sports teams have helped provide solid experiences.  In addition, my council has definitely helped on recruiting tasks.

National...  improving IT systems (Scoutbook linkages & online applications)  along with high adventure plus program material.

Now, I do question if our fees and fundraising are going to these areas in the most efficient way possible and I question all the layers of leadership.

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10 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

At our District level, camporees have added a lot of value.  Our Klondike, our on by district, is a Troop favorite.

Council level summer camps, merit badge clinics (some) and a variety of partnerships with local universities and professional sports teams have helped provide solid experiences.  In addition, my council has definitely helped on recruiting tasks.

National...  improving IT systems (Scoutbook linkages & online applications)  along with high adventure plus program material.

Now, I do question if our fees and fundraising are going to these areas in the most efficient way possible and I question all the layers of leadership.

This is a list I compiled in another thread of functions requiring professional staff at the Council or National level. 

  •  Liability insurance protecting Scout leaders when claims are made against them
  •  Medical insurance protecting Scouts and other participants injured in Scouting activities
  •  Uniform youth protection and conduct policies
  •  Adult applicant background checks, screening, reporting, and enforcement of conduct policies
  •  Uniform health and safety policies, incident reporting, and research
  •  Relationships with local, state, and national agencies and organizations that can enhance Scouting programs
  •  Scouting news and policy publications and communications
  •  Local Scout properties available year-round for camping, hiking, campfires, and other basic Scouting outdoor activities 

Beyond these functions, I don't think there is much that requires the kind of bureaucracy we currently have.  Camporees and Klondikes don't need districts - they need units.  Merit badge clinics can be run by units (if not abolished in a reformed Scouting organization).  Summer camp programs - do we need them?  Especially since they have become primarily merit badge clinics?  Units are capable of banding together to sponsor a week-long program at a Scout property.  Is there anything the Council has done on recruiting that a unit or group of units could not do?  We don't need Scoutbook and other nationwide IT systems:  There is no reason that there has to be a national list of all BSA youth members, much less a national database for all advancement.  Units did very well with Troopmaster and TroopWebHost and the many other unit management products developed in the last 30 years.  Many units "roll their own" high adventure programs or work with commercial outfitters.  

We don't even need uniform national advancement requirements and procedures and uniforms.  All we need are goals, a short list of "Must Haves," and a short list of "No-Nos" -- which democratically elected volunteer committees can agree upon, based upon local conditions. Then leave it to units and collections of units to pick and choose from the vast treasury of more than a hundred years of Scouting lore and materials already out there, plus newly developed program.  We already have the goals and some "Must Haves" in the BSA's Congressional Charter, United States Code Title 36, Section 30902:

"The purposes of the corporation are to promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using the methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916."

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52 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

Camporees and Klondikes don't need districts

These things don’t magically happen.  It takes dedication of many volunteers inside and outside the units at the District  level to put on good programs.  Yes, our unit has a lot of our own events throughout the year but it is greatly enhanced by broader outings.

I could add some districts have talented unit commissions that help out struggling units.

If districts and councils don’t matter, then why do certain council areas flourish and over perform in terms of youth participating in scouting and others languish?  I don’t believe that is random.  I believe when councils and district professionals find and support their experienced/solid council and district volunteers, it absolutely helps units perform well and deliver and improved program.

Perhaps I should amend my initial summary... good Districts and Councils are vital to scouting.  

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9 hours ago, Eagle1993 said:

Perhaps I should amend my initial summary... good Districts and Councils are vital to scouting.  

As I discussed above, I agree that there has to be a certain limited professional infrastructure to provide particular resources that are beyond the capabilities of individual units or area or regional collections of units and unit volunteers. 

But when you are talking about organizing multi-unit programs, or promoting Scouting in communities, or assisting units and leaders via training and commissioner service, volunteers are doing all of that already.  They don't need a council or district structure, or council or district professionals, to make it happen.  I've dealt with some fine district executives and other professionals, but they weren't doing program or commissioner work.  They were overseeing fundraising to pay for council operations, administering membership paperwork flow between the council on one hand and units and volunteers on the other, and encouraging/nagging district volunteers to do things to ensure that the district hit all of its council-established performance targets. 

We continue to need volunteers working individually and in teams and committees to provide programming for units beyond what individual units can do on their own; and to provide training, help, and advice to develop unit leaders and improve unit quality; and to promote the program in the community so that units will have fertile ground for recruiting.  But we don't need a professional Scouting bureaucracy to do those things, and we don't need layers of organization that have their own goals (such as fundraising) that are disconnected from supporting and developing unit Scouting.  

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1 hour ago, dkurtenbach said:

As I discussed above, I agree that there has to be a certain limited professional infrastructure to provide particular resources that are beyond the capabilities of individual units or area or regional collections of units and unit volunteers. 

But when you are talking about organizing multi-unit programs, or promoting Scouting in communities, or assisting units and leaders via training and commissioner service, volunteers are doing all of that already.  They don't need a council or district structure, or council or district professionals, to make it happen.  I've dealt with some fine district executives and other professionals, but they weren't doing program or commissioner work.  They were overseeing fundraising to pay for council operations, administering membership paperwork flow between the council on one hand and units and volunteers on the other, and encouraging/nagging district volunteers to do things to ensure that the district hit all of its council-established performance targets. 

We continue to need volunteers working individually and in teams and committees to provide programming for units beyond what individual units can do on their own; and to provide training, help, and advice to develop unit leaders and improve unit quality; and to promote the program in the community so that units will have fertile ground for recruiting.  But we don't need a professional Scouting bureaucracy to do those things, and we don't need layers of organization that have their own goals (such as fundraising) that are disconnected from supporting and developing unit Scouting.  

I absolutely guarantee you many, maybe even most, districts are not like this.

 

I implore you to visit smaller 500 or 400 level rural councils that are dependent on Professionals for all areas of scouting. Program, unit service, youth and adult recruitment, and fundraising. (Believe it or not, councils need money to keep camps open). No offense, but you have a very short sighted view. 

Edited by carebear3895

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32 minutes ago, carebear3895 said:

II implore you to visit smaller 500 or 400 level rural councils that are dependent on Professionals for all areas of scouting. Program, unit service, youth and adult recruitment, and fundraising. (Believe it or not, councils need money to keep camps open). No offense, but you have a very short sighted view. 

As I discussed above, I agree that there has to be a certain limited professional infrastructure to provide particular resources that are beyond the capabilities of individual units or area or regional collections of units and unit volunteers.  As I stated, that specifically includes "[l]ocal Scout properties available year-round for camping, hiking, campfires, and other basic Scouting outdoor activities."  That necessarily includes costs for acquisition, development, maintenance, and staffing.  Having been very involved with our Council's camp facilities for several years, I'm well aware of the costs associated with Scout properties.  Of course there has to be funding.  I'm also well aware that well-managed camps of the right size and having the right facilities for the user base can pay for themselves.  

I grew up in a Great Plains farming and ranching town of 500 people with one Scout troop of about 20 boys and no Cub Scout pack, 50 miles from the Council headquarters.  We Scouts worked for money to pay our own way, and did fundraising for the troop.  We camped every month and every summer the troop went to the Council summer camp and on a Boundary Waters canoe trek, and it produced Eagle Scouts regularly.  The volunteer Scout leaders and the parents and the Scouts did that.  

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4 hours ago, RememberSchiff said:

No need to send Eagle workbooks to National either (what do they do with them?) Actually the whole Eagle workbook should be replaced  with just a signoff sheet and one page project description.  

I just went to council two weeks ago post Eagle BOR.  They only needed the advancement sheet and the 2 page signed application to go to National, not the workbook.  So perhaps this did change.   

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10 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

I just went to council two weeks ago post Eagle BOR.  They only needed the advancement sheet and the 2 page signed application to go to National, not the workbook.  So perhaps this did change.   

I know for the Eagle BOR that I have been a member of that the above is what we have informed the scout that have to be returned to the council office. 

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@ValleyBoy  Returned to council with letters yes.  Sent to National no.  Application is electronically sent to national 99% of the time.   SEs like to flip through their project binders prior to signing the application.

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16 minutes ago, PACAN said:

@ValleyBoy  Returned to council with letters yes.  Sent to National no.  Application is electronically sent to national 99% of the time.   SEs like to flip through their project binders prior to signing the application.

We have never turned in the project book with Eagle application.  Our unit completes 12 to 14 Eagles annually.  The initial project is approved at the district, then reviewed at the EBOR, but that is it.  

Pre-EBOR we turn in 2 page application to service center and contact list, then post EBOR application with signatures

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15 minutes ago, PACAN said:

@ValleyBoy  Returned to council with letters yes.  Sent to National no.  Application is electronically sent to national 99% of the time.   SEs like to flip through their project binders prior to signing the application.

In my council if the SE wants to look thru the project binder he should have had the council register make him a copy when it was at the council office the first time before the BOR.   

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4 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

We have never turned in the project book with Eagle application.  Our unit completes 12 to 14 Eagles annually.  The initial project is approved at the district, then reviewed at the EBOR, but that is it.  

Pre-EBOR we turn in 2 page application to service center and contact list, then post EBOR application with signatures

Pre EBOR we turn in the 2 page application, reference letters, and Completed Eagle Project workbook to the Council office.

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6 minutes ago, ValleyBoy said:

Pre EBOR we turn in the 2 page application, reference letters, and Completed Eagle Project workbook to the Council office.

We do most everything electronic at the front end.  Scout sends an email for their project scope to the District Advancement Chair, who reviews, asks questions if necessary, and approves- in a rare instance, they may ask to meet with the Scout if something isn't clear or needs revision that isn't coming across via the email chain.  Once project is complete,  the Scout completes the Eagle workbook and 3 copies of the application, and requests letters.  Letters are sent to the unit (typically SM, but some units have it come to the Advancement Coordinator).  All is brought to the Eagle BOR.  The BOR members review the workbook and letters for about 20-30 minutes before the BOR begins.  District Advancement Chair reviews the application during that time.  When BOR is complete, the copies of the application are signed- two are sent to Council.  Once copy goes to National, one stays with Council as a backup in case it gets mishandled by National, and the third is given to the unit for the same reason. 

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