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Cburkhardt

Positive National Program Changes during Financial Restructuring

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With a national Financial Restructuring Ch. 11 Bankruptcy filing likely in our future, this posting will focus on program changes that would be good for the national BSA organization.  This includes national events, high adventure bases, program committees, specialized committees (like OA, Venturing, Sea Scouts), advancement, awards, uniforms, supply division and anything that really touches on what a youth member would experience.  If you want to engage in discussion of structural issues, please engage in the companion National Structural Changes posting, which is now active.  We will not discuss the Bankruptcy proceedings or media accounts of it on this posting.  If you wish to do so, there will surely be other postings to do that.

Program Development, Events and Program Support.  I put national program activity into three buckets.  The first is Program Development, which is the continuous monitoring and evaluation of the relevance of the programming we offer Councils to implement locally.  This ranges from the writing of handbooks and other program manuals to devising and proposing changes to things like age eligibility.  The second bucket are events and activities.  This would be things like conduct of National Jamborees, national events, operation of the High Adventure Bases and conduct of any program activity above the council level (like OA, Venturing and other special events and youth leadership structures).  Program Support is the third bucket, consisting of things like the Supply Division, Boy’s Life and other services in direct support of program.

In my view, program is a required function of the national structure and, if anything, should be prioritized and reallocated additional resources during the financial reorganization.  Program development by national is what we provide our Scouts.  When it is very good (such as the current Scouts BSA Scout Handbooks), it is wonderful.  When it is less relevant or draining of resources, it can presents problems across the entire movement until it dies out or is corrected.

What national Program changes do you believe would be good to implement during the financial restructuring?  Please support your ideas with at least a few sentences of rationale.

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Training regarding how "The Methods lead to the Aims". How to use each method specifically to reach the aims, and also how inappropriate use is a hindrance. These could be broken down into multiple modules. 1. Overview of Methods to Aims. 2. Using each method to best accomplish the aims. (one for each method?).

In person, hands-on training is best but digital is better than nothing. IMO only in-person training should "count" as training. Digital is a resource summary, but not complete training. I would incorporate this philosophy into all trainings (except YP.) 

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DuctTape:  I encourage you and everyone else to think "big-picture" on this positing.  Rather than discussing the content of individual training programs, I urge you to address the centrality of training generally, the current role the national organization plays in it and how that role might evolve in a positive way over the next couple of years.  Your mentioning of the on-line versus live-presentation is a good example of a significant issue.  

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Pardon if I'm in the wrong topic for these.  I'm gathering that at a national level, the definition of program is broader than what we define it to be at a unit level.

A few ideas to start off:

The national programming team needs to spend significant energy defining what it means to support units.  Every presentation talks about how unit scouting is the most important thing we do.  Yet, the definition of what it means to support a unit is remarkably vague.  As a result, council, district, and professional support for units is vague and poorly understood.  Expectations are not clear.

The team needs to take a more active role in championing unit size & structure.  To that end, I would create and track metrics that track 1) the number of filled essential and important unit positions, 2) the size of units, & 3) program quality.  These metrics need to be tracked and the national committees and staff measured upon them.  This would drive national volunteers and staff to make decisions that either a) increase volunteerism or b)  decrease the requirement for adult volunteer roles.  Program is an important component in this mix because quality program has a dominating effect on unit size and quality.

Per the district and council thread, the national programming team needs to champion the development of world class district and council teams.  It is fairly clear that today the national programming team defined the structure, put together some on-line training with minimal staff.  The national organization has otherwise neglected this important component of Scouting.  Similar to my above point, the national team needs to be actively measuring and taking proactive steps to develop and strengthen the implementation of the structure they defined.

 

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So I can mainly speak to the cub half of the program as we haven't hit the troop yet. (1 year to go for the first)

I would like cub scouts broken into two halves. I've mentioned this here before, so it should be familiar. Regardless, my idea would be that you have two different levels of K-2 grade youth and 3-5 grade youth. Make the K-2 level program more like the old tiger cub program, where you meet less frequently, have a few more guidelines on what you can do, etc. Then you move to a 3-5 grade program where you get a bit more freedom because you don't have to accommodate the K-2 aged kids, but also don't need the volunteer efforts quite as much.

This would simplify things quite a bit in some ways. First, uniforms and handbooks: you have a t-shirt for the k-2 program, and a single handbook. Then for the 3-5 program, the traditional blue (or just go with the tan for everything with blue loops), and a single book. The current thing where K has a uniform, 1-3 has a different uniform, and 4-5 is another one is kinda silly, along with a new necker and book every year.

I also think it would strengthen the program and support the adults as well. As I said, it would help to avoid overworking the volunteers for the youngest, which has a huge burnout rate. It should also help with youth burnout as well. For a kid who joins in kindergarten year, he will end up seeing a lot of the same program over and over for the 6 years. How many pinewood derby cars does one need anyway? You can do different things in the two age groups. (maybe we make rain gutter regatta the tradition of the k-2 and pwd the tradition of the 3-5.

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ParkMan:  The Journey to Excellence program tracks and reports some (but not all) of the metrics you are suggesting.  And, the identical JTE metrics are tabulated and used to evaluate at every level of Scouting.  Every volunteer and professional has the identical dashboard configuration that aggregates the same data at whatever locale and level is applicable.  Unit size is probably tracked but is not included in the current reports.  Unit quality is pretty subjective, and is probably reflected only in the JTE reporting on things like advancement, retention, number of commissioner contacts with a unit and similar things.  The data is probably available -- but your comment really goes to how that data is used to evaluate personnel and target resources. 

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Parkman:  I did not specifically discuss that the commissioner staff goes up every level to national.  Much of the servicing aspects of what you raise is in their area of responsibility.  Generally, the national structure commissioner organization is thought to have greatly upgraded itself since a national commissioner service staff was established about 10 years ago.  

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Malraux:  Do you think the national structure should have the authority to mandate that every aspect of Cub Scouts be implemented in every Council?  For example, should councils have the option to choose whether it will offer program to the youngest age-tier?

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29 minutes ago, malraux said:

So I can mainly speak to the cub half of the program as we haven't hit the troop yet. (1 year to go for the first)

I would like cub scouts broken into two halves. I've mentioned this here before, so it should be familiar. Regardless, my idea would be that you have two different levels of K-2 grade youth and 3-5 grade youth. Make the K-2 level program more like the old tiger cub program, where you meet less frequently, have a few more guidelines on what you can do, etc. Then you move to a 3-5 grade program where you get a bit more freedom because you don't have to accommodate the K-2 aged kids, but also don't need the volunteer efforts quite as much.

I didn't think a green  arrow was enough support of your post. The ideas in your post have been mention several times on this forum for 20 years. And we will just keep mentioning them. Well done.

Barry

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1 minute ago, Cburkhardt said:

ParkMan:  The Journey to Excellence program tracks and reports some (but not all) of the metrics you are suggesting.  And, the identical JTE metrics are tabulated and used to evaluate at every level of Scouting.  Every volunteer and professional has the identical dashboard configuration that aggregates the same data at whatever locale and level is applicable.  Unit size is probably tracked but is not included in the current reports.  Unit quality is pretty subjective, and is probably reflected only in the JTE reporting on things like advancement, retention, number of commissioner contacts with a unit and similar things.  The data is probably available -- but your comment really goes to how that data is used to evaluate personnel and target resources. 

@Cburkhardt - you've captured that point well.   Lets capture metrics on the things we most struggle with at a unit level and then measure people at the national level on their ability to impact them.  I believe we'd see changes that would have a positive impact on these local issues.

 

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2 minutes ago, Cburkhardt said:

Malraux:  Do you think the national structure should have the authority to mandate that every aspect of Cub Scouts be implemented in every Council?  For example, should councils have the option to choose whether it will offer program to the youngest age-tier?

I know you asked Malraux, but I'm trying to understand your question. Doesn't the national structure mandate implementation of all the ages groups in every council? Are you suggesting councils be given a choice to structure units to fit the demographics?

Barry

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3 minutes ago, Cburkhardt said:

Malraux:  Do you think the national structure should have the authority to mandate that every aspect of Cub Scouts be implemented in every Council?  For example, should councils have the option to choose whether it will offer program to the youngest age-tier?

Probably national should be able to dictate that its offered, though I could see leaving the option to not offer it as part of a unit decision. I would kind of envision something like a structure wherein a pack has two elements in it (the younger and old elementary), in the same way that it seems like a lot of troops kinda have a venture crew around, though more formally. I'd be open to refinement though, as I suspect that it would take specific experimentation to find the right answer.

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17 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

I know you asked Malraux, but I'm trying to understand your question. Doesn't the national structure mandate implementation of all the ages groups in every council? Are you suggesting councils be given a choice to structure units to fit the demographics?

Barry

I mean, not every council offers stem scouts as I understand it.

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18 minutes ago, malraux said:

Probably national should be able to dictate that its offered, though I could see leaving the option to not offer it as part of a unit decision. I would kind of envision something like a structure wherein a pack has two elements in it (the younger and old elementary), in the same way that it seems like a lot of troops kinda have a venture crew around, though more formally. I'd be open to refinement though, as I suspect that it would take specific experimentation to find the right answer.

FWIW - I would similarly concur.  I'd think that all mainline programs should be offered by a council, but optional to a unit.  I would think the LFL stuff could be optional.

 

 

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As I have stated before the JTE is a measure of quantity not quality, therefore not a way to measure "excellence". I think it thus a barrier to improve units, and scouting in general as it perpetuates "check box" philosophy which then permeates other areas of program.

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