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Cburkhardt

Positive District Changes during Financial Reorganization

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So, keeping with the theme of what systemic changes could be made to the district structure and operations to make it more effective, just a few thoughts:

  • The district organizational structure should be adjusted to be more focused and able to operate with fewer people (including no district-level professional):
    • A dedicated fundraising team reporting to the council Finance Committee and handling FOS, popcorn, and special fundraising events.
    • A dedicated marketing and communications team reporting to the council Marketing and Communications Committee and handling local Scouting news and marketing.
    • A dedicated relationships team, headed by the District Chairman, that handles outreach with chartered organizations, other community institutions and businesses, and local leaders.
    • The District Commissioner staff, responsible for all unit program and administration issues (including former District Committee roles such as Training, Advancement, Camping and Outdoors, Membership, Activities and Community Service, etc.).
       
  • Membership lives or dies based on the quality of unit programs.  The mission of the District Commissioner staff will be helping units develop strong, active programs.  The District Commissioner staff will be relatively small and have four main jobs: 
    • (1) Identify unit Scouters and parents with skills and resources who can be called upon from time to time to help, and identify other resources in the community (subject matter experts, facilities, events and activities) that are Scout-friendly;
    • (2) Organize training for unit volunteers and Scouts on all sorts of things (not limited to BSA training courses), on a continuing and an ad hoc basis, using mainly skilled unit Scouters and outside resources;
    • (3) Provide better opportunities for units to help each other and share program ideas, successes, and failures.  Replace district-wide roundtables run by district people with monthly roundtables for small groups of units on the same program level (Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, etc.).  Host responsibilities rotate and the members choose their own discussion topics.  Make it fun.  Provide food.  A couple of commissioners might sit in just to observe, provide news, and take task orders from units, but the unit volunteers run it. 
    • (4) Help units solve specific problems. 

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3 hours ago, RememberSchiff said:

Agree some Scoutmasters need help with this. What if District had two or more  experienced, enthusiastic,  fit , young  adult outdoor guides  available to units at no cost? Maybe members of a local college outdoor club,  former Philmont rangers and other super scouts, REI employees, graduates from college outdoor education programs,  Maine Guides, ...  Like a Council Philmont visit, they would visit a troop , talk about their adventures,  answer questions, hope scouts  and adults take hook....Ok lets start planning this trek...and help provide two deep leadership for weekend trek.  

My $0.01,

The idea is good, we had someone like this help our troop. Officially he was our UC.

This kind of gets back to previous discussions of recruiting the right people for the right positions. Even getting "members of a local college outdoor club,  former Philmont rangers and other super scouts, REI employees, graduates from college outdoor education programs,  Maine Guides" requires somebody to first find them.  

The District Commissioner brought up in a District Committee meeting that he couldn't find any volunteers for Unit Commissioners. He wasn't even looking for qualified volunteers, he would take anyone. I met him after the meeting and asked how many he needed. Eleven was the ideal number. I made a few calls to a few troops and 2 days later handed him a list of 11 excited Qualified volunteers.

I'm not saying that the UCs should be know all and go all for unit programs, I am just suggesting that the reason we don't see more experts to help units is because nobody is looking or asking. I don't know if recruiting is a skill or it just requires an effort, but a good recruiter can find talented volunteers.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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3 hours ago, RememberSchiff said:

Agree some Scoutmasters need help with this. What if District had two or more  experienced, enthusiastic,  fit , young  adult outdoor guides  available to units at no cost? Maybe members of a local college outdoor club,  former Philmont rangers and other super scouts, REI employees, graduates from college outdoor education programs,  Maine Guides, ...  Like a Council Philmont visit, they would visit a troop , talk about their adventures,  answer questions, hope scouts  and adults take hook....Ok lets start planning this trek...and help provide two deep leadership for weekend trek.  

My $0.01,

Where do I sign up? But they can't be 18-20. BSA has decided those folks don't count as real adults. 

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47 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

The idea is good, we had someone like this help our troop. Officially he was our UC.

This kind of gets back to previous discussions of recruiting the right people for the right positions. Even getting "members of a local college outdoor club,  former Philmont rangers and other super scouts, REI employees, graduates from college outdoor education programs,  Maine Guides" requires somebody to first find them.  

 

25 minutes ago, Sentinel947 said:

Where do I sign up? But they can't be 18-20. BSA has decided those folks don't count as real adults. 

As a start...hire @Sentinel947 to pilot this at  a district of his choice AND listen to his advice for growth to other districts.  :)

Perhaps establish  coop relationships with colleges  which offer outdoor related majors .  Some juniors and seniors are over 20,  though IMHO National should recognize 18yr olds as adults. 

Right next door to Summit,:   https://admissions.wvutech.edu/academics/majors/adventure-recreation-management

Maine:  https://www.unity.edu/academics/certifications/recreation/

Minnesota: https://cehsp.d.umn.edu/departments-centers/center-environmental-education/undergraduate-degrees/environmental-outdoor-ed

Another $0.02,

Edited by RememberSchiff
clarity
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1 hour ago, RememberSchiff said:

 

As a start...hire @Sentinel947 to pilot this at  a district of his choice AND listen to his advice for growth to other districts.  :)

Perhaps establish  coop relationships with colleges  which offer outdoor related majors .  Some juniors and seniors are over 20,  though IMHO National should recognize 18yr olds as adults. 

Right next door to Summit,:   https://admissions.wvutech.edu/academics/majors/adventure-recreation-management

Maine:  https://www.unity.edu/academics/certifications/recreation/

Minnesota: https://cehsp.d.umn.edu/departments-centers/center-environmental-education/undergraduate-degrees/environmental-outdoor-ed

Another $0.02,

I don't even think it has to be a paid role. This is something a great UC could do, but I'd never be a UC because I don't give a rip about chartering paperwork or JTE. Which is more of the job than helping troops grow fun outdoor programs. 

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2 hours ago, Eagledad said:

I am just suggesting that the reason we don't see more experts to help units is because nobody is looking or asking. I don't know if recruiting is a skill or it just requires an effort, but a good recruiter can find talented volunteers.

The effort is in the looking and asking around and just talking to folks to find people with skills, experience, and other resources.  The skill is picking the right ones to recruit and getting them interested.

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33 minutes ago, Sentinel947 said:

I don't even think it has to be a paid role. This is something a great UC could do, but I'd never be a UC because I don't give a rip about chartering paperwork or JTE. Which is more of the job than helping troops grow fun outdoor programs. 

Delegate. There is usually someone in the unit that likes that kind of stuff. You just check their work now and then, and praise them in public at a meeting. You might even give them a box of GS Cookies. It's an opportunity to shine a light on someone. 

Barry

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36 minutes ago, Sentinel947 said:

I don't even think it has to be a paid role. This is something a great UC could do, but I'd never be a UC because I don't give a rip about chartering paperwork or JTE. Which is more of the job than helping troops grow fun outdoor programs. 

 

30 minutes ago, walk in the woods said:

Don't forget popcorn and FOS.

These are not the point of a UC.  The whole purpose of a UC is to be a coach, mentor, and adviser to the unit leaders.  That's where the value is in the role.  You've got to focus on where your role brings value.  A UC should be a pretty senior Scouter and comfortable putting paperwork, popcorn, and FOS into it's proper perspective.

That said - as a UC you do have to have a broader view than just outdoor program.  For example, you can have the most adventurous troop - but not doing any recruiting.  You could have a great program, but have Scouts that cannot afford it.  You can have a great troop that cannot meet or go camping because they didn't turn in their recharter paperwork.  As a UC, you've got to keep those aspects in mind.  The UC after all is an adviser to the CC as well as the SM.  If you see the troop is struggling financially, you can suggest selling popcorn.  If you're three weeks out from re-charter date and the paperwork isn't in, you probably ought to ask.  Does that mean you need to be the shill for the Council on these - nope.

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The UC position is just another example of top down leadership.  How can the council/district fix the units.  You should to be looking for bottom up solutions.  How can the units fix the council/districts?  

The current model doesn't allow for grassroots initiatives to improve council/districts.  It's all top down thinking.  That's why BSA will never improve.

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3 minutes ago, David CO said:

The UC position is just another example of top down leadership.  How can the council/district fix the units.  You should to be looking for bottom up solutions.  How can the units fix the council/districts?  

The current model doesn't allow for grassroots initiatives to improve council/districts.  It's all top down thinking.  That's why BSA will never improve.

Mostly agree - but not 100%.  

In life most of us benefit from coaches, mentors, and advisors.  Most of us benefit from having someone who has traveled the road before us that we can ask questions of.  I do it in Scouting, I do it at work.  The UC role is Scouting's attempt to provide that.  Let's gather together that experience and build a program to get that experience shared.  This forum has had conversations about how UCs should have the authority to overrule unit leaders - I've never agreed with that idea myself.  Yes, when that starts to happen, it's an example of top down leadership.  Similarly, when professionals do that, it's wrong too.

I'm starting to come to the realization that just as we have "youth led" vs "adult led" for troops, so too do we need "volunteer led" vs. "professional led" for districts and councils.

  • Professional led districts tend to exhibit top down control.  They focus more on fundraising and membership.  These are metrics upon which professionals are measured.
  • Volunteer led districts tend to exhibit community driven control.  They focus more on unit quality and local programming.

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57 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

These are not the point of a UC.  The whole purpose of a UC is to be a coach, mentor, and adviser to the unit leaders.  That's where the value is in the role.  You've got to focus on where your role brings value.  A UC should be a pretty senior Scouter and comfortable putting paperwork, popcorn, and FOS into it's proper perspective.

That said - as a UC you do have to have a broader view than just outdoor program.

 

9 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

In life most of us benefit from coaches, mentors, and advisors.  Most of us benefit from having someone who has traveled the road before us that we can ask questions of.  I do it in Scouting, I do it at work.  The UC role is Scouting's attempt to provide that.  Let's gather together that experience and build a program to get that experience shared. 

I contacted a district commissioner about the possibility of a unit commisser for our troop -- and the answer was, basically, that they are lacking in volunteers.   I'm thinking about talking with other local troops about whether they have any "retired" scouters would be happy to give some advice, based on their experience, to a new troop still figuring out how to get itself organized.   If I find such a person, is it better to keep it as unofficial mentoring, or to suggest that this person consider signing on as a unit commissioner?   (I understand that "new-unit commissioners" only need work with one troop at a time.)

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25 minutes ago, Treflienne said:

 

I contacted a district commissioner about the possibility of a unit commisser for our troop -- and the answer was, basically, that they are lacking in volunteers.   I'm thinking about talking with other local troops about whether they have any "retired" scouters would be happy to give some advice, based on their experience, to a new troop still figuring out how to get itself organized.   If I find such a person, is it better to keep it as unofficial mentoring, or to suggest that this person consider signing on as a unit commissioner?   (I understand that "new-unit commissioners" only need work with one troop at a time.)

If you can find an unofficial mentor that your unit is happy with, that's the way to go.  There is no need for them to be an official UC.

Curious:  did the district commissioner volunteer his/her services to help out in the interim?

You raise a good point that others have mentioned earlier.  All of these district positions are great in theory--but many districts have a difficult time finding qualified, quality volunteers.  Or if they are already on the district staff, many have lost sight of their primary mission--to help units.

Edited by desertrat77

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