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Cburkhardt

Positive District Changes during Financial Reorganization

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So, suppose that you've got ten or so troops within your local area.  That might be a three mile radius in a suburban area or a forty mile radius in a rural area.  You have maybe 25 youth in  your troop.  You know a couple of dozen good camping areas within an hour's drive, plus plenty of hiking and cycling trails, parks, lakes, natural areas, and other interesting places to go.  You're acquainted with most of the Scout leaders in your area because you get together for a barbecue every quarter, you organize an area camporee every spring, you visit each others' Eagle Scout Courts of Honor, and you see them at your council summer camp every year.  You register new Scouts and new leaders online and do a lot of training online. You get your uniforms and insignia and badges from ScoutStuff.org or when your Committee Chair makes a monthly run to the Scout Shop at council headquarters.  At least once a year you and your other unit adults spend a weekend at the council camp for training.  If you have a question about an administrative issue, you call or email Marie at council headquarters.

Your troop sells Christmas wreaths and has a pancake breakfast and bake sale as their main fundraisers.  Your troop holds a community Bike Rodeo for kids on July 4, runs a community food drive in the fall, holds Scout Sunday events, and leads a community stream cleanup in the spring.  Non-Scout friends are invited to every campout and event.

You introduce new parents and adult leaders to outdoor skills at a special campout in the fall and little training sessions at every campout.  You have the Handbook (as well as previous handbooks for the last forty years), plus the Fieldbook, and lots of other books on outdoor skills, plus Boys' Life and Scouting magazines.  Jenny subscribes to Backpacker magazine and gives a little presentation on the latest gear or techniques at every monthly troop leaders meeting.  You know several folks in the community with particular skills or expertise, and they come out to a campout or meeting from time to time to share what they know with the Scouts.  And you have a long list of YouTube videos on outdoor skills.  Your parents and leaders are encouraged to get training and certification in things like firearms and watercraft and first aid.

Every troop you know about is pretty much like yours, because those are the expectations set by the Scouting culture and training.

And you don't have a district, a district committee, a district executive, or commissioners.  Why would you?

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Councils, especially those with land, will be sued over the next several years ... many already are subject of lawsuits and as National goes bankrupt they will be the next targeted entity.Their primary job will be protecting camp(s) that are critical to program success and I expect that means their legal fees will skyrocket ... leaving less paid roles. 

I believe National, supported by councils, should perform a national call for volunteers.  Contact former scouts directly (especially those under 30) and former long term unit leader plus advertiser the need on Twitter, FB, YouTube and other social media platforms.  Have a signup list where they can volunteer. Background check that signup list and once they pass, provide names to Districts who can contact them to help fill out District roles and determine what names could be provided to units.  

I continue to see Troops in my area struggle due to lack of volunteers. There are parents who take on a few roles, but many SMs and ASMs are ready to step down and the parents are not able (time) or willing to take on the roles.  Our District committee is ok, but we need more unit commissioners to help.  
 

On a personal level, I am serving as a CC for a pack, Den leader for A Wolf den and SM for a Troop (the first year my son joined).  I’ve already announced I am resigning my CC role months ago an no one is stepping up (even after asking 4 different parents directly).  Our Troop is growing and large (6 patrols) but they had no SM last year and our growth is due to collapsing Troops in the area.

After I aged out of BSA, I never heard from them. I spent countless hours volunteering for FIRST robotics including trips to New Hampshire for training and Atlanta for nationals.  I could have provided BSA thousands of volunteer hours in my 20s but I didn’t think of it and I never saw the ask/need where as FIRST did reach out frequently.

If we are going to survive, we need more qualified volunteers.  We need an organized ask.

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Dkurtenbach:  The troop described in your posting pretty much describes what my Troop and experience is like.  Of course I am a long-time volunteer and know those things and have the time to share the knowledge and spread my time.  However, this really does not happen by itself.  I'm not certain we require the structure we currently have to raise-up Scouters who will do the tings you suggest should be natural, but some organization that has some of the same looks and functions of our current districts is probably what can cause those things to happen.  Someone, somewhere has to make those things come about -- otherwise newer units and new unit leaders will have less of a chance to learn those lessons and share the experience and workload with other well-intentioned colleagues.  In a sense, the pleasant circumstance you describe make the case for a well-run districts-type entity.  If you agree with me just a little bit, what kind or entity could give rise to the circumstanced you suggest in a situation where it does not naturally exist?    

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Eagle1993:  I am not a bankruptcy expert, but I agree that councils are in a threatened circumstance as we approach reorganization.  The councils have formed a bankruptcy committee to participate in the court process.  This is being arranged by attorneys affiliated with councils and will councils as a group a means to participate directly in the proceeding (meaning they do not have to go through national).  The plantiffs lawyers will try hard to get assets from the councils.  Their service to their clients is to obtain as much money as possible and they will do their job well.  I am told there are defensive bankruptcy strategies that will be deployed, but that is the extent of my knowledge.  Somehow I hope the councils will participate by evaluating their circumstances and contributing some finances during the bankruptcy in order to receive the same kind of "discharge" from the bankruptcy court -- which would prevent the future claims you rightly fear in your posting.

As for volunteer recruiting, it is something I find myself having to doe every week to keep my expanding Troop sufficiently supported by adult volunteers.  After 30+ years I have no secret.  I find it is just very important to continuously "make the ask".  I guess I'm "successful" in that regard, but I have not developed some great strategy that makes it any easier.  Asking and convincing. 

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