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1 minute ago, Cburkhardt said:

I agree.   That is the typical situation.  I readily admit that we have a great CO situation because we are new (a girl Troop) and carefully sought-out a great CO.  It's almost ridiculous how great they are -- the head church volunteer leader is the Troop Chair, the COR is the past head church leader and the pastor is our chaplain and has visited us on campouts (stayed a couple of nights at summer camp).  The whole church loves the our Scouts and even held a church wide fund-raising reception for us.

The question is whether you would prefer the situation you have that allows unit independence or a structure where a contract-designated supervisor is your district and council leadership.  Do you want them to be able to instruct you as to what you shall do?

As to the "sacred cow" status of COs, I never really thought this structure had that status.

I think if we went back to the 40's and 50's, we probably had a lot of COs that were heavily involved, and a great number of members of those COs were probably directly in leadership positions within the troops.  Over the span of the last 70 years, a lot of those former CO "groupings", like the YMCA, pulled away.  I would say over the past three decades, if not longer, it's been the scramble if you want to start a unit to find anyone with blood in their veins and willing to sign a document that becomes the CO.  I also think that the national/council leadership, and unfortunately many of the unit volunteers, erroneously think that our COs are willing partners ready to take on liability for what our unit does.  I think a good number of our COs would lose their minds if we ever actually tried to get them to pony $ for liability for the units they are chartering.  I don't favor a direct ownership (that's how I would phrase GSUSA's model) of units by Council. but give us as the units a choice- lay out a Charter Org model that clearly tells a CO what liability they are taking on by sponsoring a unit, and a model where the unit directly can fund itself.  I'd spend unit funds to have a blanket liability insurance policy with reasonable limits so that we defacto our own CO 9and no more fees being paid to Council for a "charter fee", etc.).

I think the Charter model is so entirely not understood by many of us.  I wonder how many on this forum realize that it is supposed to be a CO function to review and ensure that any adult who would be driving youth on a unit activity have certain coverage limits on their auto insurance policy? When's the last time you saw a unit actually checking that?

 

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The reality is that if we drop the CO concept I would no longer have the church review and approve our budget and annual calendar, which I do as a matter of enhancing the relationship.  These kind of things would become a part of the JTE, which might become a more compliance-oriented system.  I know our Troop could make a change like that pretty easily -- which is why I don't see it as a sacred cow.  We would just try to do other things to keep a positive relationship with the church leaders.  After all, they give us the meeting space, storage room for our equipment, bulletin boards in their facility and all the other typical things.

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27 minutes ago, Cburkhardt said:

The CO system protects the independence of each unit's operating style because decisions are reviewed by our CO.  Be careful for what you wish for.

Most chartered organizations are not involved in their units and never will be.  That means is that a poor operating style in a unit that is doing a disservice to its members is protected by the indifference of the chartered organization. The interests of a district or council leader are money, members, and manpower (volunteers), and those three things only come from high performing units that have trained leaders and active outdoor programs.  I want the boss to be somebody who knows what the program is supposed to look like and has the authority to put the right people in the right spots.

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Maybe COs are not "sacred cows" in the strictest sense. They are, however, a historical part of our structure which brings its own problems. COs who do not provide any guidance/direction whereby units are so independent that they make it up as they go along and do not provide anything resembling the BSA program. The flip side is those COs who provide too much guidance/control and directs the units to do "their program" and not BSA. With zero oversight by BSA units and their leaders often have scouting, but not BSA Scouting.

The contrast to the GSUSA model which has its own problems (as no structure is perfect) allows the future decision makers to construct the right balance. In the end (IMO) the question of COs and/or Council authority structure needs to answer the question...

"How do we ensure the units and leaders are fulfilling the promise to scouts of a high quality BSA Scouting program"?

 

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The ultimate sacred cow is … drumroll please …  a residential summer camp that has been operated by a council for at least 50 years (because multiple generations in families might have attended).  Special "sacredness" attaches to one that is run-down and under-utilized, because its continued existence requires ongoing and vocal "worship".

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3 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

 

Most chartered organizations are not involved in their units and never will be.  That means is that a poor operating style in a unit that is doing a disservice to its members is protected by the indifference of the chartered organization. The interests of a district or council leader are money, members, and manpower (volunteers), and those three things only come from high performing units that have trained leaders and active outdoor programs.  I want the boss to be somebody who knows what the program is supposed to look like and has the authority to put the right people in the right spots.

I definitely agree that simply duplicating GSUSA system is not ideal and there are issues if BSA executives can simply generate units (scoutreach & fake numbers).  However, I will say that I think my local GSUSA employees have a better idea of what girls & parents want than BSA.  Why?  Because GSUSA has more direct involvement in recruitment and leadership of units.   When parents ask the GSUSA employee (directly) how much it costs … they have to answer (and FYI, their answer is "not as much as Boy Scouts ha ha ha".  When camps were too far away, GSUSA employees knew as they are more directly involved with the units and created a bussing system.  

My council assumes COs are taking care of this (but they and we know they are not).  So, their executives spend more time on FOS/popcorn and less on recruiting and leader development.  Therefore, each unit is on its own with its current set of leaders and will live and die by that leadership.   Councils get out of touch on what is important (as technically they don't own the units, don't recruit, don't find leaders, don't track leader training, etc.).  Eventually, they make serious mistakes like selling our one BSA summer camp because there are other camps at other councils. and the "CORs didn't object".

@Cburkhardt brings up several valid points as there are unit to unit culture variety that must be balanced and BSA ownership of units could kill that.  However, the current CO system is broken for many units and I hope they think of creative solutions.

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As to COs, I agree that the relationship should be up for evaluation.  Things start out nicely when the unit is new, but the relationship becomes distanced as the parties who agreed to certain operating procedures at the start are replaced by successors.  I wonder about the accuracy of the dire claims I've read on some GSUSA blogs about unit leaders being dismissed for non-compliance with some pretty petty-sounding rules -- but we should be careful how the supervisory authority is structured to protect against arbitrary decisions by some of the personalities regularly discussed on this site.

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13 minutes ago, Cburkhardt said:

The ultimate sacred cow is … drumroll please …  a residential summer camp that has been operated by a council for at least 50 years (because multiple generations in families might have attended).  Special "sacredness" attaches to one that is run-down and under-utilized, because its continued existence requires ongoing and vocal "worship".

I think this is probably the biggest one, especially given that most of the discussion at National will be about financials.  That said, I am in a decent size council that has no Scout BSA summer camp.  Our scout numbers dropped much faster than surrounding areas after they sold off the only camp we had and we have yet to recover.  FOS numbers dropped and as a unit we have had discussions if we should direct our FOS donations to the council (out of state) that hosts the camp we go to.  When there is redundancy, I agree that selling off an underutilized camp probably makes sense.  However, councils should be careful about selling off their only camp.

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By posting my rather "cheeky" sacred cow suggestion, I of course do not question the benefits of a week of residential summer camp provides to a Scout and the value of tradition upheld by these places.  However, over the next two years we will see most of the marginal operations closed and sold to finance the bankruptcy workout and to fund council contributions to the Victims Trust Fund in order to secure council-specific discharges from future YPT liability.  These will be tough times for many, but it seems pretty unavoidable.  Perhaps in some territories there can be some cooperation to help choose the best properties to continue.  That might help us all through those disappointing developments.

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Posted (edited)
56 minutes ago, Cburkhardt said:

The question is whether you would prefer the situation you have that allows unit independence or a structure where a contract-designated supervisor is your district and council leadership.  Do you want them to be able to instruct you as to what you shall do?

This a good question.  However, I think it generates another:  after the smoke clears, will there be sufficient council or national staff left to instruct/rule units?  The way things are going, I doubt it.  Units will probably be more autonomous than ever.

I've never seen a CO operate "as advertised."  COs are usually quite distant.  The construct also allows council to say to units "you belong to us, do as we say" or "you don't belong to us, see your CO" as it benefits the council and the BSA, not the units.

Edited by desertrat77
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It will be interesting to see the financial effects of closed summer camps this year.  I suspect that many councils will find that their annual budget has taken less of a hit because they don't have to fill the annual deficit from summer camp operations.   

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Posted (edited)

1.  Skip the slaughter house and send to the glue factory:

- STEM

- Popcorn

- Merit badge fairs

- Rechartering process

2.  Dignified burial with honors:

- OA (45 years an Arrowman too, ouch)

- Venturing (rarely works to potential)

3.  Administer diminished rations and strict fitness regimen:

- Cub scouting:  reduce overall program, ranks/badges and overhead by 50 percent (a never ending program that pleases execs and national supply)

- Uniform items overall:  reduce by 90 percent (buy Dickies work clothes instead, pants and shirt, and sew or pin on a couple badges)

- Eagle process and emphasis--simplify red tape, refocus on outdoor leadership of peers.  PR should focus on all scouts in scouting, regardless of rank, and not just this over-hyped rank

- Infrastructure and staff at summer camps that do not relate directly to the outdoors (computer labs, Citizenship MBs, etc.)

4.  Wake up these insular communities and remind them they are part of the BSA:

- Wood Badge

- Commissioner corps

Edited by desertrat77
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9 minutes ago, desertrat77 said:

1.  Skip the slaughter house and send to the glue factory:

- Popcorn

- Merit badge fairs

- Rechartering process

IMO, I feel like I can practically guarantee you none of these three will be sent to the executioner. Besides, there are far from "Sacred cows". 

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1 minute ago, carebear3895 said:

IMO, I feel like I can practically guarantee you none of these three will be sent to the executioner. Besides, there are far from "Sacred cows". 

Carebear, how so?  Are they sacred to the units, the council, or both?

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Just now, desertrat77 said:

Carebear, how so?  Are they sacred to the units, the council, or both?

Popcorn is a money maker. Like, I get it. Volunteer hate it.....but it's low overhead and a money maker for councils. I would reckon no council is in a good enough financial state to cut one of their largest fundraisers. 

I hate it, unit leaders hate it, but "merit badge factories" are just not going away because they are so popular. The day of little johnny scout calling up a merit badge counselor are long gone unfortunately (which is sad because I think that's a great skill for a scout to learn)

I would love to see national simplify the recharter process. It's one of those those things where the answer seems so simple, but I think it get's complicated because of the current charter system. I'm all on board with simplifying it, but if it hasn't happened now, will it ever?

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