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Cburkhardt

Positive District Changes during Financial Reorganization

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2 hours 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. 

 

2 hours ago, walk in the woods said:

Don't forget popcorn and FOS.

My thought was this was a new position, call it Ranger  for now. Similar District resource  as certified  Rifle and Archery instructors, and RSO's but likely paid. 

Edited by RememberSchiff

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2 hours ago, Sentinel947 said:

 I'd never be a UC because I don't give a rip about chartering paperwork or JTE. 

 

2 hours ago, walk in the woods said:

Don't forget popcorn and FOS.

Unit Commissioners cannot escape getting entangled in all the administrative tasks, because they are the (only) folks who (theoretically) are in touch with every unit every month.  So anytime there is paperwork to be collected from units or some council or district program to be promoted in units, "We'll have the UCs do it."

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1 minute ago, dkurtenbach said:

 

Unit Commissioners cannot escape getting entangled in all the administrative tasks, because they are the (only) folks who (theoretically) are in touch with every unit every month.  So anytime there is paperwork to be collected from units or some council or district program to be promoted in units, "We'll have the UCs do it."

You just haven't seen a good one in action.

But, I understand what you are saying. The expectations (or lack of expectations) of the UCs are set by the District Commissioner. My dream job after Scoutmastering was District Commissioner. But, that job was already taken, so I ended up doing other District and Council responsibilities. When the dream job was finally offered, I was burned out and declined. No regrets, but I don't think we would be stuck in today's political situation if I had taken the job because I had a plan for saving the world. 😎

Barry

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7 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

No regrets, but I don't think we would be stuck in today's political situation if I had taken the job because I had a plan for saving the world. 

As Maxwell Smart would say, "Missed it by that much."  😄

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3 hours ago, Eagledad said:

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

I'll do it for 2 boxes of Caramel Delights!  😉

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1 hour ago, dkurtenbach said:

As Maxwell Smart would say, "Missed it by that much."  😄

Any off us who get that are showing our age.

We were the first in my circle of family and friends to get a color tv in 1964, and the first thing my uncle wanted to know was what color car did Agent 86 drive.

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let me see, someone was complaining about not enough comments on this thread? :)

I think this thread has mostly come down to there are needs for more volunteers.

The bigger question for me is why does scouting require so many volunteers? We have 1000 scouts in our district and we have, I don't know, 2 dozen units with, say a dozen volunteers in each unit and the district needs another 60 people (but isn't close to that). So we need nearly 1 volunteer for every 3 scouts? That's crazy.

 

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8 minutes ago, MattR said:

 

The bigger question for me is why does scouting require so many volunteers? We have 1000 scouts in our district and we have, I don't know, 2 dozen units with, say a dozen volunteers in each unit and the district needs another 60 people (but isn't close to that). So we need nearly 1 volunteer for every 3 scouts? That's crazy.

 

That's no problem.  We have 1 volunteer for every 3 scouts.  Would you believe...1 volunteer for every 10 scouts?  How about a retired Health teacher with a rusty pen knife?

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2 hours ago, desertrat77 said:

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.  

This is the crux of the issue.  I've been a district volunteer for several years now - most of the time in more senior roles.  In that time we've gotten no support from either national or our council in building our district team.  The only training available is the online training.  Our DE will brainstorm with us on names and even ask people at times if we need him to.  But, I see no effort expended by the BSA at all to foster the development of district teams.   

We've neglected district committees for 20 years (at least) and now it's catching up with us.  Help for unit leaders - missing.  Training for unit leaders - missing.  Community support for starting new units - missing.  One or two paid DEs can not substitute for a district team.

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15 minutes ago, MattR said:

let me see, someone was complaining about not enough comments on this thread? :)

I think this thread has mostly come down to there are needs for more volunteers.

The bigger question for me is why does scouting require so many volunteers? We have 1000 scouts in our district and we have, I don't know, 2 dozen units with, say a dozen volunteers in each unit and the district needs another 60 people (but isn't close to that). So we need nearly 1 volunteer for every 3 scouts? That's crazy.

 

Because we're volunteers.

Take roundtable for example.  Roundtable is really nothing more than a monthly meeting of volunteers - they swap knowledge, socialize, tell stories, build relationships, etc...  One person could organize roundtable in 2-3 hours a month.  But, since we want to have breakouts by program, pull together some announcements, and do this in an hour or two a week, you want 3-5 people.  Now scale that up to include training, coaching for leaders (Commissioners), camporees, summer activities, pinewood derbies, OA, eagle boards, support for membership, solicitation of donations, etc. you end up with 30+ people pretty quickly. 

A troop is much the same way.  Our troop was a pretty well functioning team and we had 20+ volunteers for 60 Scouts.  A SM, a few ASMs to support trips, some board of review people, some merit badge counselors, treasurer, advancement person, a membership person, etc..  You could run our troop with 2 or 3 people working 10-20 hours a week or 20+ each putting in 2 hours a week.

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28 minutes ago, MattR said:

l think this thread has mostly come down to there are needs for more volunteers.

The bigger question for me is why does scouting require so many volunteers? We have 1000 scouts in our district and we have, I don't know, 2 dozen units with, say a dozen volunteers in each unit and the district needs another 60 people (but isn't close to that). So we need nearly 1 volunteer for every 3 scouts? That's crazy.

 

A serious restructuring could pancake some of the management layers and tasks. Why do we have four, maybe five, tiers of management, from the CO to the unit to the district to the council to the national organization, all operating with different missions and goals and what sounds like an inability to help each other in any but the most model regions? How did that ever happen? There are no other youth organizations out there that require so much heavy lifting by volunteers. When parents are making choices about what to involve their kids in, this is one of their considerations. Scouting is a very top down, bureaucratic organization, with many units in silos doing tasks that could maybe be more easily be shared or consolidated. This is an areas where districts could help. In one possible scenario, things like FOS, popcorn, JTE, merchandising, laborious recharter processes, could go away or be streamlined. We're talking district, but on the national level I also know of no other youth organization that tries to make as much money off of its members through merchandising, whether its uniforms, gear, or advancements, or by requiring adult volunteers to pay to volunteer, or through fundraising as does scouts. And yet we have no money. We can't have five tiers all with their hands out to the parent. There is no question that running activities for kids that have a degree of risk requires a lot of trained volunteers. However, there is a lot of BSA originated "stuff" that seems to needlessly add tasks and to no clear end. Technology and new social media networks have given organizations like ours great opportunities to streamline roles and produce more efficient and effective communications. BSA doesn't seem to take advantage of much of it -- this organization right now is about five years behind where school affiliated youth organizations, youth sports organizations, and random other youth organizations that I work with are and it is not helping us to attract kids and cut down on volunteer roles. None of these groups have tons of money either. I can only surmise they've had better leadership. 

 

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3 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

You could run our troop with 2 or 3 people working 10-20 hours a week or 20+ each putting in 2 hours a week.

True, but a program that only needed 2-3 people working 2 hours a week would eliminate the issue of not having enough volunteers, or those volunteers would be having a lot more fun. And, as @yknot said, scouting would be more competitive with other youth activities.

Since this thread is about helping districts help units, the question is how do districts help units run a program with fewer volunteers? Off hand, I'd say units need a lot more training that isn't even close to what districts and councils currently give. JTE certainly needs to be rewritten.

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1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

This is the crux of the issue.  I've been a district volunteer for several years now - most of the time in more senior roles.  In that time we've gotten no support from either national or our council in building our district team.  The only training available is the online training.  Our DE will brainstorm with us on names and even ask people at times if we need him to.  But, I see no effort expended by the BSA at all to foster the development of district teams.   

We've neglected district committees for 20 years (at least) and now it's catching up with us.  Help for unit leaders - missing.  Training for unit leaders - missing.  Community support for starting new units - missing.  One or two paid DEs can not substitute for a district team.

I'm seeing the same dynamics.  Training is perfunctory at best.  Several years ago, before the on-line training, each month the council would point out that we district staffers were in single digits for training.  YPT was all done.  But the council had not conducted a district staff training course in years.  Yet they still showed us deficient for training each month, with the upshot being it was on us.  Us to council:  "When will you schedule the training?"  Council:  "Some time in the near future."  Never happened.  The on-line course arrived first.

The lack of training has not only impacted the quantity of district staffers, but the quality as well. BSA-wide, positions are open for months and then given to the first warm body that shows interest.  Some of these staffers are welling meaning but hapless.  Others are toxic and drive people away.  Some district staffs I've been a part of are just a good ole boys club that has zero interest in anything outside of their circle.  (I was only allowed to join these types of staffs because I'd volunteer as a UC and sure enough, there were several vacancies.)

 

Edited by desertrat77
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4 hours ago, MattR said:

True, but a program that only needed 2-3 people working 2 hours a week would eliminate the issue of not having enough volunteers, or those volunteers would be having a lot more fun. And, as @yknot said, scouting would be more competitive with other youth activities.

Since this thread is about helping districts help units, the question is how do districts help units run a program with fewer volunteers? Off hand, I'd say units need a lot more training that isn't even close to what districts and councils currently give. JTE certainly needs to be rewritten.

Sure - if there was a way to accomplish the same with 2-3 people 2 hours a week, then that's fine with me.  I know you've mentioned several times that the Scouting program could be simplified.  I do largely agree with that.  That said - I don't think simplifying the program would have helped us a lot.  The troop is well run and manages to find enough volunteers - so that would solve a problem we don't have.

Now, how can districts solve the problem of units with fewer leaders.

  1. These units need mentors - A solid UC is important here
  2. They need specialized training.  This training needs to be results oriented - not some pie in the sky theory stuff.
    • How to strengthen program with a few leaders
    • How to actually go recruit new leaders
    • How to actually go recruit new scouts

 

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5 hours ago, desertrat77 said:

I'm seeing the same dynamics.  Training is perfunctory at best.  Several years ago, before the on-line training, each month the council would point out that we district staffers were in single digits for training.  YPT was all done.  But the council had not conducted a district staff training course in years.  Yet they still showed us deficient for training each month, with the upshot being it was on us.  Us to council:  "When will you schedule the training?"  Council:  "Some time in the near future."  Never happened.  The on-line course arrived first.

The lack of training has not only impacted the quantity of district staffers, but the quality as well. BSA-wide, positions are open for months and then given to the first warm body that shows interest.  Some of these staffers are welling meaning but hapless.  Others are toxic and drive people away.  Some district staffs I've been a part of are just a good ole boys club that has zero interest in anything outside of their circle.  (I was only allowed to join these types of staffs because I'd volunteer as a UC and sure enough, there were several vacancies.)

 

Four very specific things I'd do:

  1. Make the primary task of the DE to build and support the district team.  Not FOS, popcorn, program, and not even unit service.  It's like the oxygen mask in an airplane - you cannot help others until your team settled.
  2. National needs to define specialized training for district volunteers.  This training needs to be delivered live.
  3. National needs to define a regional training for district key three members.   Camp School for district key three.
  4. National needs to create a problem solving team to help troubled districts
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