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BSA Mortgages Philmont Scout Ranch

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7 hours ago, ParkMan said:

It's easy to point at these cases and blame the lack of youth experience or training as the problem. 

So you are saying these are not issues? How do expect new adults, especially ones with NO (emphasis)  Boy Scout/Scouts BSA experience to provide a productive program for the youth. Training should be the answer, but it is a joke as others have pointed out. I have seen "trained" adults nearly destroy troops.

 

7 hours ago, ParkMan said:

These are really volunteer leadership and program issues.  A Scoutmaster should be cultivating the adults in the program so that they build up to cold weather camping.  With your typical Scout in the program for 4-5 years, there should be a bunch of experienced adults who have cold weather camped before - even if they were never Scouts as a youth. 

Remember this is a brand new troop, only in existence since February 2019. It is one of the hundreds that have arisen this past year.  The only experienced Scouter is the SM, everyone else is new to Scouts BSA. But every adult is "trained." Apparently there was was some "discussion" among the the "trained" ASMs scheduled to go camping and the "trained and experienced" SM who worked with the youth, and got them prepared to go. The "trained" ASMs had no experience cold weather camping.

 

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When a new parent joins, the Scoutmaster ought to say - "why don't you come on this camping trip in April".  Then again in September, then November, then January.  Now the parent says "January - wow, that's too cold."  So, the Scoutmaster says - "no problem, I got a couple of leaders who's kids started 3 years ago that now like to camp in January & February - maybe you'll be up to it next year."

The "trained" ASMs had been camping since March, including summer camp. Plus their time  with Cub Scout family camping. Plus SM had been working with his Scouts, and his ASMs, on the matter. The Scouts were indeed ready, it was the "trained" adults who were not.

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Perhaps around a time in history where many parents had been in the military there would be lots of adults who show up with a lot of outdoor experience.  But, in an industrialized country like ours it's going to be the exception to find parents with a strong outdoor background.  So, a troop has to build up to it.

Why "back to basics" training, training that is no longer done, is so vital for having a productive program. Especially with all the new troops coming into existence. ITOLS is suppose to "image.png.8943d9c86994c40e85f6f856bf978db8.png"  Futher image.png.7a0eb897ac943322085e47afa17e912c.png 

I am sorry, but something is wrong with the training program if "trained" adults do not want to go camping, except for health, safety, and emergency reasons. And don't try and blame their trainers, I know them well. I helped trained them, and used one of them as staff for my ITOLS course. The other took over my job as Training Chair.

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If I see a trend around here, it's that effort, preparation, and program pay off.  The strongest troops I see are often those with some leader who has the drive to make it happen.  It has little to do with training and prior Scouting experience.

Yes, a Scouter with drive and vision is important. But Scouters having the Knowledge, Skills, Abilities that come from both TRAINING and EXPERIENCE  are vital to the success of a program. When a bunch of "trained" but inexperienced ASMs argue with the trained and experienced SM,  and force his hand to cancel a trip by pulling out at the last minute, there is a problem. BSA's current training syllabi are no effective and need to be redone.

But I know that won't happen unless changes at National occur.

I, and other former pros, know BSA's corporate culture regarding volunteers: recruit ones that agree with you 100% and use them until they burn out or they start disagreeing with you and need to be removed. I was encouraged to use that approach as  DE. I saw it in several districts and councils I was involved in. I have friends who have been involved on the regional and national levels that this has happened to them. Until someone at National realizes academic theories are not working, and BSA needs to get 'Back to Basics" and folks on the committee are all on board, change won't happen.

So I do not blame the volunteers, but the professionals.

 

Edited by Eagle94-A1
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6 hours ago, TAHAWK said:

"These are really volunteer and program issues."

So let's blame the volunteers, who can only "vote with their feet" and their pocketbooks.  That should raise morale  - and contributions.  The beatings will continue ......

Why do we need BSA if the people we collectively pay many $millions have no responsibility for results?  We had ninety-nine troops in the Cleveland, Ohio, area before BSA even arrived in 1912.  One hundred and five years later, with a much larger population, I doubt we have that many - actually meeting - in the same area today.  We have sold off three camps and part of the fourth to meet payroll.  The Service Center building is in bad shape and getting worse.  Leadership is often not immaterial to organization results.  If they are not leaders, if it's all on the volunteers, what value do the "professionals" add for their $millions? 

The cause of what is going on in the BSA is complex. 

But make no mistake, much of this is because of volunteer and program issues.  My district has 15 packs.  The largest 5 account for 70% of all the Cub Scouts in the District.  The smallest 5 account for 10%.  The largest pack is bigger than the smallest 5 put together.  Each of these small packs recruits 2 or 3 kids a year.  Do they do school talks - no.  Do they put of flyers - no.  Do they recruit at their CO - no.  Do they spread the word through social media - no.  All of those things our local council trains on, encourages, and provides DE support for.  They all complain about not having enough Scouts or volunteers - but what are they doing to fix the issue?  On the other hand, the larger packs are doing great.  They are growing, thriving, and have absolutely no issues with recruiting.

Do I blame the small unit volunteers - no.  They're volunteers and I'm thrilled that they care enough to be here.  But, if they wanted to grow it's within their power to do so.  Energize the program and get the word out.  But, it's got to start with the desire to do so.  Scouting in my area is getting smaller because 1) you've got to be willing to try, 2) pack/troop size matters, and 3) stuff happens. I could spend hours talking about this.

National and councils are culpable in this because they've never figured out how to address this.  I believe that the single best thing we could do to reverse the trend is to invest in functioning district teams led by volunteers.  Small to mid size packs & troops need support and encouragement.  If the unit is struggling they need a helping hand.  They need a network of people they can lean on for moral support and training.  They need ideas and encouragement.  Yet, what has national & council done.  They've replaced live training with online training.  In struggling districts they've replaced volunteers with professionals instead of fixing the volunteer issue.  As volunteers we all complain about the heavy handedness of national and councils. 

The mindset of national and councils is all wrong.  National is here to build functioning councils.  Councils are here to build functioning districts.  Districts are here to support and enable strong unit programs.

Yes - I understand it seems like I'm arguing two different things - but I am not.  For packs & troops to thrive, they have to want to.  But, national and councils need to do what they can to create a supportive environment where people want to, are equipped to, and are supported to thrive.

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45 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

So you are saying these are not issues? How do expect new adults, especially ones with NO (emphasis)  Boy Scout/Scouts BSA experience to provide a productive program for the youth. Training should be the answer, but it is a joke as others have pointed out. I have seen "trained" adults nearly destroy troops.

 

Remember this is a brand new troop, only in existence since February 2019. It is one of the hundreds that have arisen this past year.  The only experienced Scouter is the SM, everyone else is new to Scouts BSA. But every adult is "trained." Apparently there was was some "discussion" among the the "trained" ASMs scheduled to go camping and the "trained and experienced" SM who worked with the youth, and got them prepared to go. The "trained" ASMs had no experience cold weather camping.

 

The "trained" ASMs had been camping since March, including summer camp. Plus their time  with Cub Scout family camping. Plus SM had been working with his Scouts, and his ASMs, on the matter. The Scouts were indeed ready, it was the "trained" adults who were not.

Why "back to basics" training, training that is no longer done, is so vital for having a productive program. Especially with all the new troops coming into existence. ITOLS is suppose to "image.png.8943d9c86994c40e85f6f856bf978db8.png"  Futher image.png.7a0eb897ac943322085e47afa17e912c.png 

I am sorry, but something is wrong with the training program if "trained" adults do not want to go camping, except for health, safety, and emergency reasons. And don't try and blame their trainers, I know them well. I helped trained them, and used one of them as staff for my ITOLS course. The other took over my job as Training Chair.

Yes, a Scouter with drive and vision is important. But Scouters having the Knowledge, Skills, Abilities that come from both TRAINING and EXPERIENCE  are vital to the success of a program. When a bunch of "trained" but inexperienced ASMs argue with the trained and experienced SM,  and force his hand to cancel a trip by pulling out at the last minute, there is a problem. BSA's current training syllabi are no effective and need to be redone.

But I know that won't happen unless changes at National occur.

I, and other former pros, know BSA's corporate culture regarding volunteers: recruit ones that agree with you 100% and use them until they burn out or they start disagreeing with you and need to be removed. I was encouraged to use that approach as  DE. I saw it in several districts and councils I was involved in. I have friends who have been involved on the regional and national levels that this has happened to them. Until someone at National realizes academic theories are not working, and BSA needs to get 'Back to Basics" and folks on the committee are all on board, change won't happen.

So I do not blame the volunteers, but the professionals.

 

Again - it's a complex issue.  

We are doing our volunteers a disservice by not being frank with them.  To have a quality program, they have to build a quality program.  You can't take a couple of BSA courses and have enough knowledge to run a unit.  You have to be humble enough to recognize that you have to continue to try, to work hard, to improve the unit.  The Scoutmaster of our troop has been at is for 25 years.  Yet, he still looks for new ideas and new things to do.  He still listens to new voices and grows the program.  

No amount of training is every going to install the willingness to try.  You don't go from someone who hasn't camped before, take a course, and then go camping in January unless you want to do that.  Coaching, mentoring, and encouragement can do that.  But training - generally it cannot.

I know the BSA corporate culture is out of whack.  I am fortunate to work with great professionals.  But, they are being sold a lie.  The success of Scouting does not rely upon them, the success of Scouting relies on volunteers.  Professionals need to enable volunteers, not replace them.  Councils & districts should be run by volunteers - not professionals.  I think the BSA should replace the phase "volunteer led, professionally guided" with "volunteer led, professionally supported."  I think that we've all take then "guided" a little too literally.

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Yes it's complex, and many faceted. And I admit, you need experienced volunteers to help units with program. 

But what happens when you have volunteers with 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60+ years of Scouter experience who raise concerns and questions, and are ignored, browbeaten, or worse, expelled from the movement? I've seen all three happen, including the expulsion of a longtime volunteer who discovered some financial irregularities.

When volunteers do not feel appreciated, they leave. When volunteers are overruled on things, they leave. When volunteers feel like they have been lied to, they leave. Mark Stinnet is the best public example of this. Over 40 years as a volunteer, served on the National  Philmont Oversight Committee, and not only was he informed of decisions AFTER THE FACT  on something HE HAD OVERSIGHT OF,  he was then ignored and told he does not know what he is talking about when concerns were raised . A  lot of long time Scouters in my area feel that they have been ignored and lied to, and they have walked with their feet.

And when experienced folks leave, there is a very large place that is a void. Many excellent organizers and trainers have left altogether, while some are now focusing solely on their units. People who loved and supported the BSA for years, and some cases decades, no longer want anything to do with the BSA because of the professionals at National. And that hurts everyone.

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The formula for volunteer engagement has not changed.  When followed, it is as powerful as ever, as we can see in strong units with lots of active volunteers.  Adults spend their time and energy and resources on things that they value.  What do they value?

  • Activities that are fun for their kids, especially if the activities have some greater value.
  • Activities that are fun for the particular adult, especially if the activities have some greater value that is understandable to whoever that adult reports to (spouse, significant other, boss, children).
  • Activities that are not really fun but that are necessary because they have a what the particular adult sees as significant value.

The first two are the ones that draw them in and keep them.  Without the first two, the third one is not enough to motivate a parent.

If the unit program doesn't appeal to the kids, you probably aren't going to get the parents.  So a fun program for the youth is the threshold.  Then, the adult has to see Scouting as having some greater value; but we can't depend on adults just knowing what Scouting is or why it matters today -- we have to show it.  And then adults have to see that they can have fun with Scouting too:  friends in the unit; special activities for adults at campouts; fun skill activities for the adults where they can learn the same skills the Scouts are learning; things that they can enjoy doing; and things in which they, too, can make a difference.  And when adults are having fun and feel like they are making a difference, they will want to do more.

 

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Sorry, but National cannot blame volunteers for this and the current financial mess the organization is in, they can blame certain volunteers with a predilection and drive to molest the youth entrusted to them and they can blame their predecessors for not being more proactive in eliminating those individuals from the roles of volunteers.  They can blame those who were spending the money at the National level for properties like SBR.  They can take a long hard look in the salaries at the top level of national and the council execs (who should NOT be earning more that schools superintendents in their region)
 

Since the announcement of the new National fees and this Philmont Mortgage there has been lots of unhappy grumbling in my district. Our council charges a ‘Program Fee’ per youth or adult registered. When pressed over the past years as to what portion of program it covers they finally came clean and said the council offices and salaries.  They were offended at  the suggestion it be called a Council Membership  Fee or Council Joining Fee like National does. When they were  pressed about what kind of cub programs (day/weekend events) they will offer, the answer was “depends on what the volunteers want to plan, organize and then we will help them figure a budget and an attendance fee”. No staffers available to come help with the event.  
 

Sorry but I’m a little skeptical about the future. We go to Roundtable and get finger wagged about about all the things we could/should be doing to make things better for the organization and a lot of the smaller units want to make things better for the kiddos they are serving first.  Show me one adult volunteer who wants to be told by council about all the stuff they aren’t doing right or enough of and here is more paperwork/online training that you need to do so we have data on the program. Case in point: this month the report was how  the cub camp at council camps have declining numbers for resident and day camp.  This is because, strangely a lot of the packs in our district are opting to hold Weekend Pack Campouts because it’s less $$ for families and program can be tailored to the group.  BSA should decide if they  want to use camping as a money maker or skills/leader maker.  

To blame volunteers for the financial problems is wrong.  The people at the top control the purse not the volunteers

 

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Each Council is a "franchise"  of the National Council.  Each Council has a corporate structure dictated , ostensibly, by the local state requirements for a corporation, be it "for profit" or "non-profit".   As such, the Council needs a Board of Directors, and some sort of Stock Holders arrangement.  With BSA, as I understand it, the local Council must have a  set of Charter Organization Representatives, officially these folks are supposed to meet periodically and VOTE, DECIDE on the Council leadership and Big Decisions.  

I was introduced to this concept when this group,  Scouter dot com, was introduced to the brou haha about the attempted sale of the Owasippee Scout Reservation in Michigan. It took awhile, but the COR's and the involved County government  eventually got together and forced the Chicago Council , which was backed by National,  to  NOT just sell off the umpteen hundred acres of Owasippee to a resort developer.   The Scout Reservation  still exists and is very successful, by all reports, as a cooperative local Park and Scout camp.  

Perhaps we need to get the CORs in our various areas  , shall we say, "involved"?  

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35 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Again - it's a complex issue.  

Yes, which is why scouting as we know it can't survive. I have been saying for 25 years now that the number one cause of volunteer drop outs is national adding complexity to the program. I know that is not what you mean, but if the average adult can't look at the program and understand the expectation of them, then they will back away.

38 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

We are doing our volunteers a disservice by not being frank with them.  To have a quality program, they have to build a quality program.  You can't take a couple of BSA courses and have enough knowledge to run a unit.  You have to be humble enough to recognize that you have to continue to try, to work hard, to improve the unit.  The Scoutmaster of our troop has been at is for 25 years.  Yet, he still looks for new ideas and new things to do.  He still listens to new voices and grows the program.  

The difference between successful new units and struggling new unit is usually the past experience of the adults. Before 1990, 75 percent of troop leaders were were scouts as a youth. There are several reasons for why, but the majority of new volunteers today do not bring any scouting or outdoor experience with them. That completely changes the dynamics of the program.

If the BSA survives, eventually experience volunteers will catch up to needed membership, but the experience of those volunteers will be different from the volunteers 25 years ago. The program is changing as a result of the experience, or lack of, from today's volunteers. I know, I harped on this over and over as the discussions of bringing girls into the program. But it's not just the membership change of adding girls, patrol method in  it's intended form only works when scouts are given the freedom to screw up. The adults coming into the program now and in the future are afraid of giving youth that freedom. Screwing up is sign of failure to the new adults, so they aren't going to just sit back and let that happen. Ask anyone who teaches woods tools today, adults today are afraid of using those tools. If they can't imagine themselves using them, they certainly aren't going to encourage their children to risk using them. That is just one  example.

 

1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

I know the BSA corporate culture is out of whack.  I am fortunate to work with great professionals.  But, they are being sold a lie.  The success of Scouting does not rely upon them, the success of Scouting relies on volunteers.  Professionals need to enable volunteers, not replace them.  Councils & districts should be run by volunteers - not professionals.  I think the BSA should replace the phase "volunteer led, professionally guided" with "volunteer led, professionally supported."  I think that we've all take then "guided" a little too literally.

Well, I don't see a volunteer led program for quite some time because the program is in a huge dynamic shift. Maybe eventually, but after working with volunteers at a district and council level, the kind of program that is volunteer led by the average parent has to be scaled way way down. That is a trial and error period of getting to that kind of program will take some time and National will be dragging their heals the whole way.

Barry

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49 minutes ago, Momleader said:

Sorry, but National cannot blame volunteers for this and the current financial mess the organization is in, they can blame certain volunteers with a predilection and drive to molest the youth entrusted to them and they can blame their predecessors for not being more proactive in eliminating those individuals from the roles of volunteers.  They can blame those who were spending the money at the National level for properties like SBR.  They can take a long hard look in the salaries at the top level of national and the council execs (who should NOT be earning more that schools superintendents in their region)
 

National financial problems - You are correct, these are due to the sexual abuse cases of the 70's, 80's, etc.  The SBR was a bet that hasn't worked out too well - so yes, throw that in there too.  Though volunteers did the abusing, that's not really the issue.  That "the BSA" allowed it to happen for so long and go undealt with is the issue.  These problems are not created by volunteers you are correct.

56 minutes ago, Momleader said:

Sorry but I’m a little skeptical about the future. We go to Roundtable and get finger wagged about about all the things we could/should be doing to make things better for the organization and a lot of the smaller units want to make things better for the kiddos they are serving first.  Show me one adult volunteer who wants to be told by council about all the stuff they aren’t doing right or enough of and here is more paperwork/online training that you need to do so we have data on the program. Case in point: this month the report was how  the cub camp at council camps have declining numbers for resident and day camp.  This is because, strangely a lot of the packs in our district are opting to hold Weekend Pack Campouts because it’s less $$ for families and program can be tailored to the group.  BSA should decide if they  want to use camping as a money maker or skills/leader maker.  

To blame volunteers for the financial problems is wrong.  The people at the top control the purse not the volunteers

 

Yes.  National is here to build functioning councils.  Councils are here to build functioning districts.  Districts are here to support and enable strong unit programs.

Part of enabling strong unit programs requires that district volunteers understand how to effectively talk to unit leaders.  We all need to be treated with respect.  Simply getting up there in front of the group and yammering on about how unit leaders are doing things wrong is a mistake.

Whomever is sitting there waiving their finger at you for not attending the council cub camps needs to sit down.  Those cub camps need to be organized by volunteers.  Those volunteers should be listening to unit volunteers and building cub camp programs that people want to attend.  If they are not then that's an issue.

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50 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Yes, which is why scouting as we know it can't survive. I have been saying for 25 years now that the number one cause of volunteer drop outs is national adding complexity to the program. I know that is not what you mean, but if the average adult can't look at the program and understand the expectation of them, then they will back away.

The difference between successful new units and struggling new unit is usually the past experience of the adults. Before 1990, 75 percent of troop leaders were were scouts as a youth. There are several reasons for why, but the majority of new volunteers today do not bring any scouting or outdoor experience with them. That completely changes the dynamics of the program.

If the BSA survives, eventually experience volunteers will catch up to needed membership, but the experience of those volunteers will be different from the volunteers 25 years ago. The program is changing as a result of the experience, or lack of, from today's volunteers. I know, I harped on this over and over as the discussions of bringing girls into the program. But it's not just the membership change of adding girls, patrol method in  it's intended form only works when scouts are given the freedom to screw up. The adults coming into the program now and in the future are afraid of giving youth that freedom. Screwing up is sign of failure to the new adults, so they aren't going to just sit back and let that happen. Ask anyone who teaches woods tools today, adults today are afraid of using those tools. If they can't imagine themselves using them, they certainly aren't going to encourage their children to risk using them. That is just one  example.

Well, I don't see a volunteer led program for quite some time because the program is in a huge dynamic shift. Maybe eventually, but after working with volunteers at a district and council level, the kind of program that is volunteer led by the average parent has to be scaled way way down. That is a trial and error period of getting to that kind of program will take some time and National will be dragging their heals the whole way.

Barry

Not to get into too much of a back and forth here.  But, I'd just revisit my comment of before: To have a quality program, they have to build a quality program.

I get your point that much of our success in the BSA has relied upon those already knowledgeable in the program coming back and becoming volunteers.  In an era where that kind of knowledge is less available, we need to adjust.  Successful packs and troops today build successful programs with longevity.  Volunteers join a unit with an existing program and learn it.  They then grow in experience and in a year or two take on a leadership role and start to mentor the new leaders.  Then in another year or two they become the senior leaders in the unit.  There's no way around it.  

Now, in the case of new units, that's where the district can come in and help.  Commissioners, Roundtables, local training, district programs, networking, etc.   They can serve that mentoring role to help newer units get going.  FInd that folks are uncomfortable with wood tools - setup a wood tools Roundtable.  District volunteers have to be working the problems.  

Councils can help here by making sure district volunteers understand this.  Of course, you know how many trainings my council has for district volunteers - zero.  Council meetings seem to be more about reporting status and sharing information.  But, really, they need to be about equipping district volunteers to be successful.   Just as districts need to emulate the program they want units to follow, so too do councils need to emulate the program they want districts to follow.

But, of course as much of this has been replaced by professionals now we have a model where a DE is told to do something by a field director.  The DE then goes and pursues it at a unit level.  In the process, all this stuff gets lost.  This is where national and councils have really dropped the ball.

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District- and council-level bureaucrats are entirely dependent on units, unit Scouters, unit parents, and unit Scouts.  Units do the recruiting.  Scouts join units.  Unit programs make retention possible.  Unit Scouters and parents provide FOS money.  Unit Scouters take training.  Unit Scouters and parents recharter existing units, keeping them alive, and form new units.  Units go camping and provide advancement and carry out service projects.  In short, nearly every measure of performance for districts and councils and the district and council volunteers and professionals comes from units.  The only thing that districts/councils control are approvals of various kinds.  As long as units get their paperwork in correctly and on time and send in FOS money, they won't have problems with approvals and won't be bothered much.  Savvy unit leaders will insulate the other Scouters, parents, and Scouts and screen the many requests for units and individuals to help the district or council out with this or that activity or need.  Yes, districts and councils do provide some needed expertise from time to time, and some optional services and programs, but that doesn't change the dependency balance.

Ironically, it is BSA National, not the local districts and councils, that can really mess with units.  BSA National controls the scope and content of unit program and they regularly roll out program changes large and small that require unit Scouters to re-learn and re-tool, and some program changes that result in the loss of units and the formation of new units.

The point is, units that survive BSA National program changes, or come into existence as a result of those changes -- and their unit Scouters, parents, and Scouts -- control the fate of Scouting in America.  

 

 

 

 

 

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I don't think there is any back and forth here, your post is very logical.

I think we must consider the level where you want success is dependent on the level where the vision given. When I look at the most successful districts, a visionary leader first sets the direction for success for all the units. Of course a unit can be successful in a rudderless district with a visionary leader of its own, but the success of those units tend to come and go as they change leaders. My observation is that to have a quality program, there must be a quality vision. A united quality vision. 

Folks often disregard vision as all that important for success, but vision is the definition for measuring performance. Where do you want the vision set?

Sadly, I think District and Council leadership is more important today than 30 years ago because the average volunteer 30 years ago had generally the same scouting experiences. Experience is a form of vision. Visionless unit leaders of today are more reliant on other leadership to set their course. I honestly don't know how that will work because that is not the program I was in.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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4 hours ago, Eagledad said:

Sadly, I think District and Council leadership is more important today than 30 years ago because the average volunteer 30 years ago had generally the same scouting experiences. Experience is a form of vision. Visionless unit leaders of today are more reliant on other leadership to set their course. I honestly don't know how that will work because that is not the program I was in.

Barry

@Eagle94-A1 maybe this points to my own blind spot. I look at my unit or other units and I see issues with volunteers, because I already have the experience aka "unofficial training" to supplement the BSA official training (required or otherwise.) Perhaps more of the unit issues are on the BSA or a Council leadership than I initially realized. It makes me worry a bit about my impending departure from the my own Troop. As @Eagledad points out, once experience leaves a unit, the BSA resources are not sufficient to replace that lost experience. 

That makes me worry about my own departure from my Troop and what that will mean long term. 

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