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4CouncilsScouter

Rumblings of Time Ahead

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In Mark Stinnett style, I tendered my resignation on my last national committee before the New Year. At this point, I've decided to hang up my hat and volunteer solely in my nephew's troop and niece's pack. As someone who grew up in the program. I saw the BSA go through a few short-lived changes to improve their strategy. I remember Scouting/USA and the Improved Scouting Program they had in the 70s. To one degree or another, these strategies have gone from prominent unveiling to quiet retirement. However, I find it harder to believe in the longterm solubility of the BSA with its current internal culture. Recently, I began stepping back from more of my roles as I saw my mentors and peers with youth-first and driven attitudes pushed to the wayside:

  1. Working with program development, I saw the Cub Scout preview adventures skirt the new corporate governance model for pilot programs. Avoiding the outlined pilot and review process, the national Cub Scouting support committee branded them as "previews". While this isn't egregious in and of itself, it's a corrosion of ethics that starts when little deviations are normalized.
  2. After this year's NAM, I spoke with a longtime friend on the Venturing committee who told us about a proposal to overhaul their advancement system with little notice to their members that shifted their program more towards a traditional Scouts, BSA/Boy Scouting model. For the rest of NAM, their fight between several of their youth officers and committee members was the rumor mill of the weekend.
  3. This last year, I became a mentor to a national officer who confided in me that they reported several non-sexual youth protection violations based harassing comments they were observing and had other youth coming to them to confide in. When I asked them about it, they said they made an informal report to the two volunteer's staff advisor for the national committee they were on and were assured they would not be serving in their roles the following terms. As of Christmas, I heard they were reshuffled to new positions on different subcommittees.
  4. I saw the ineffectiveness of the new corporate governance model's desire to have volunteers serve in a position for no more than three years to increase diversity and support an open-change climate; in reality, it made it easier to remove passionate volunteers with attitudes different from the committee's leadership and encouraged a habit of shifting volunteers from position to position to avoid a term limit.
  5. Lastly, I see the writing in between the lines for the environment outside of Scouting. The BSA is facing a changing social and legal system that doesn't favor past, criminal actions by its former members and claims of cultural appropriation with OA American Indian Activities and Cub Scouts creating their own "ceremonial song" and "ceremonial dance". As more states continue to change their statutes of limitations legislation, there may be an impasse for the organization.

Now, I don't write this post out with the intent to smear the name of an organization I wholeheartedly believe in the values its promotes and the work done by countless parents and volunteers. However, I believe that there has to be an earnest conversation about this division in Scouting. There is a rampant culture of petty politics, and a gap of understanding between some individuals serving at the national and regional levels and those serving in the neighborhood pack, troop, crew, and so on. I truly hope that my experiences are unique, but I think it's time for me to step back, stay local, and not burn-out the fire I have to give back to a program that did so much for me.

See You On The Trail!

Edited by 4CouncilsScouter
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Thanks. You confirm several of my suspicions -- especially regarding the Venturing committee's obsession with finding the perfect advancement model ... when that is the last thing concerning most venturers.

I hope quality time back in the trenches restores you. Every scout needs a crazy uncle working for their (and their buddies) smiles.

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2 hours ago, qwazse said:

Thanks. You confirm several of my suspicions -- especially regarding the Venturing committee's obsession with finding the perfect advancement model ... when that is the last thing concerning most venturers.

When Venturing came out in August 1998, it was never about advancement, it had recognitions.  Do the professionals at Nationalhave any experience in Venturing?

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

When Venturing came out in August 1998, it was never about advancement, it had recognitions.  Do the professionals at Nationalhave any experience in Venturing?

I'm not sure but I rather doubt it.  Same mindset in the several councils I've belonged to.  They'll champion Cub Scouting all day long.  And STEM, Eagle Scout, FOS and popcorn.  Everything else?  Scant attention.

Edited by desertrat77

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Thank you very much @4CouncilsScouter for following your convictions and making the tough choice.  Thank you for the many years of service and attempting to fight the good fight and the politics that do exist.

I have no idea where we'll end up nationally, but thank you for sharing with us some of your observations of what is happening within the national organization.  It really does help us to be more informed volunteers.

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On 1/2/2020 at 9:50 PM, Eagle94-A1 said:

When Venturing came out in August 1998, it was never about advancement, it had recognitions.  Do the professionals at Nationalhave any experience in Venturing?

I remember have an email conversation with a high up in venturing from the national office on why there was an advancement criteria on the crew JTE scorecard at the time, when advancement is not a method of venturing.  I basically got "it is what it is, we think venturers should be advancing"

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When Venturing first kicked off in 1998, the original handbook was pretty much all about the Venturing awards.  If you knew nothing else about the program except what was in the handbook, you would have concluded that Venturing, like Boy Scouting, was structured around advancement.   But from following and participating in Venturing forums from the beginning, it is pretty clear what happened:  Many Venturers, and many of the Venturing crew adults, came from Boy Scout troops and wanted something different from the advancement-focused grind.  They wanted fun and adventure without all the bureaucracy.  So they grabbed on to Venturing's built-in flexibility and ran with it, largely ignoring the awards program.  Some crews -- a minority -- took the awards system seriously.  Some crew adults used a "stealth" awards system, tracking youth accomplishments themselves and surprising the youth with Venturing awards they had unknowingly earned.  But it wasn't enough.  Somewhere around 6-8 years ago BSA was so distressed at the tiny percentage of Venturers actually earning Venturing awards that they completely revamped the Venturing awards system to what it is now, with the goal of increasing its use.

I think the problem is that many professionals and adult volunteers raised on advancement-centric Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting just could not understand Venturing.  Without awards to mark progress and accomplishments, how could BSA know what Venturing crews were really up to?  How could BSA show that the program worked without statistics evidencing achievement?  

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About ten years ago, I once witnessed a DE being asked by a new Cub leader if he (the DE) would come to their meeting and speak to the new parents.  His response was (quote) "I don't do that. I have people who  do that. " He meant the District Commissioner(s), of which I was at the time one.  The Cub leader was angry, rightfully so, and we talked later.   That DE was gone in about 6 months.  Is this National's attitude in a nutshell?  

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9 hours ago, SSScout said:

About ten years ago, I once witnessed a DE being asked by a new Cub leader if he (the DE) would come to their meeting and speak to the new parents.  His response was (quote) "I don't do that. I have people who  do that. " He meant the District Commissioner(s), of which I was at the time one.  The Cub leader was angry, rightfully so, and we talked later.   That DE was gone in about 6 months.  Is this National's attitude in a nutshell?  

I do not know about National, but it was the attitude my DFS had. I had a new, struggling unit that my church started. I didn't have an active commissioner corps to help them, so I did it myself. My DFS found out, and told me to stop.Would not hear of the reasons why I was helping: no commissioner, my church's pack, my men's club asked me to help, etc. Ditto with me going to OA meetings and events. Told me " You don't have time to play Indian." Here's the irony of that situation, me attending the Ordeal, doing cheerful service in the rain, and working with the ceremony team thoroughly impressed the Scouters from my district in attendance. That created a lot of good will, and broke some barriers. And it did it with not only the Arrowmen, but all the Scouters as word got around that "We have ourselves a REAL DE!"

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DFS? I am unfamiliar with the acronym

 Probably something I should know, but don't.

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Director of Field Service. In some councils with more than 1 Field Director, they use a DFS. He is the #2 person in a council after the Scout Exec.

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2 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

"We have ourselves a REAL DE!"

There ya  go.   It is my opinion that THAT is the reason most DEs become DEs.  They originally want to be SCOUT Scouters, to help give the (youth) Scouts opportunities, to be examples and role models for the vast number of volunteer Scouters.  When they discover they are judged on things other than that, and being paid less than they are (we hope) worth, they move on.  

We have a "real DE" in our District and we treat him as such.  He answers emails, phone calls,  visits our Roundtable,  camporees and even IOLS sometimes. AND he is about to be married !

 

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2 hours ago, SSScout said:

AND he is about to be married !

Best wedding gift I got came from the volunteers: no calls between 10pm and 7am. :)

 

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And that may be the end of your honeymoon, even as he goes on one.  Unless the spouse is already aware of the awful schedule and constant pressure, and they can keep the family income ahead of the game, you will lose him.  I have seen many divorces over the years of struggling and really potentially excellent DE's.  It destroys their marriages and often destroys their love of Scouting that led them there in the first place.  Some do come back, and those areas are fortunate to get them as volunteers; but many simply disappear and even if they have kids eligible, do not have them in the program.  Sad, but far too true.  Or so it seems to me.

 

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