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21 minutes ago, desertrat77 said:

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

Amen.  As a scout going to summer camp in the mid to late 60's, pretty much everything you did was outdoor related with the exception of the handicraft area.  Pioneering, cooking, camping, water sports, shooting sports.  No one went to summer camp to sit in class and talk any of the citizenships.

Two years ago I volunteered to be the MB counselor for 6 scouts who signed up for Chess MB.  I could not fathom why anyone would come to camp to do chess!  (although it did get me 2 hours each afternoon in the most air conditioned room in the camp - June heat and humidity in FL - that air sure felt good)

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1 minute ago, carebear3895 said:

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?

Carebear, can't we find another fundraiser to replace popcorn, a product that buyers want?  Volunteers hate popcorn because customers are quite indifferent to it. 

MB fairs:  point well taken.  However, if we must have them, they should be more challenging. 

Recharter:  I understand your point, but events may overcome this clunky process.  The staff and infrastructure needed to carry the old process along may not exist soon.

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Just because something is popular doesn't make it right. 

mB factories are popular b/c it makes it too easy. Not necessarily the requirements (although this is true in many cases) but the process being circumvented. The process is as much a part of providing scouts growth opportunities not to mention the loss of adult association as a result of large groups. 

How often do we say, "don't do for a scout that which they can do for themselves"; doing all the planning, communicating, logistics of a mB session for a scout is a denial of opportunity. 

Yes it may be popular, but so would be cooking for them and hauling all their gear straight to the campsite. Oh wait, sadly these are done all the time as well.

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It really looks like our CO / Pack / Troop relationship is a little different.

We have been chartered by FUMC for many many years in town.  I am not even sure the duration really.

Our current COR (who is looking to get out of the position after a lengthly time) was a Scout and will come to events in uniform.  I do have the COR in my contacts on my phone and I do text or call him directly if I need something, and he does know who I am.  He also will attend committee meetings on occasion.

IH- as it is in the Methodist Church they switch out pastors on a fairly consistent interval.  That happened here last year.  I took it upon myself as Cubmaster to invite the new IH to our Pack Thanksgiving "feast".  Think potluck / Pack Meeting.  He did attend and he said a few words to the Pack.  I felt it was important to meet us and see a Pack event like that.

Now... Our CO allows the Troop to use their van to transport the Troop to events, as we are allowed to use their gym or sanctuary if we need it.  However our Scout Hut is not connected to the church and is owned by the "Friends Of".. I know.. the CO owns everything.  (I'd like to see that aspect go away for sure)

 

I am fairly new as a leader.. End of my third year now.  I will be Webelos DL soon and continue as CM.  So, I am not really sure of what should stay and what should go

I know the application process is tedious as been mentioned.I have had to fill out new apps 2 or three times for the Pack and once when I became a Troop Committee member.  

I have absolutely no use for STEM in Scouts.

I think the Lion program is silly and should go away, maybe Tigers.  ( I started as a Wolf in the early 80s, so I think that is a good age to start) ;)

Just make Webelos - AOL a 18 month program.

I have another thought, but I am reluctant to express my views on many of the volunteers I witness. :)

 

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Wow, I was the SM for a troop that was also sponsored by FUMC, and what a pleasure that was.  We could also use their van nearly always and we also had access to their bus. Our COR was a former SM and a good friend and Scouter.  Anyone who is with a FUMC unit will never have to worry about their support, and are blessed to have that accociation.  Our Venture Crew is sponsored by an Episcopalian church and they are also wonderful and consider the crew as part of their outreach ministry.

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, carebear3895 said:

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)

Having only come back to scouting a year and a half ago, I have definitely seen the popularity of MB fairs (and seen them done both very well and less well also)... but I don’t think the days of scouts being the ones making contact with MB counselors are entirely gone.  I had my daughter start reach out to a Scholarship MB counselor (not associated with our or our linked troop) as an almost new scout, and when I replied to one of the intervening emails about a location to meet, the counselor politely reminded me (in a separate email chain) that it was the scout’s responsibility to do the logistical coordination.  I really respected how he educated me too, and — by her choice, but enthusiastically supported by me — she’s returned to him for another badge he counsels since.  As a copied leader on an email from another parent to an in-troop counselor, I saw a different counselor do essentially the same thing.  So, still some (admittedly anecdotal) signs of life in that element of adult association...

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It is great when you have a CO that is interested and engages in some manner to their unit(s).  There is a lot that the COR is theoretically supposed to be involved in- they are supposed to be actively participating in the district/council level as well.  They are supposed to be the most informed of the unit key 3, in theory.  And i don't doubt that there are a good number who are.  I just haven't seen that in practice around my area.   I think as others have said, for a new unit there may be engagement, but ongoing engagement is probably where more can/should be done.  For American Legion units, posts hold elections annually and the post commander theoretically is the IH/COR by default, so if you have someone new in that position every year, the institutional knowledge getting passed on is iffy.  

This is the COR Guidebook if anyone was curious what their role is supposed to be: https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/511-421(16)_WEB.pdf

 

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10 hours ago, desertrat77 said:

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

- Wood Badge

- Commissioner corps

First off, I love the way you ordered and categorized your list. Agree with lots of it. Curious about this comment though.

Woodbadge, I understand, having just gone through it last year, I see how it could get kind of cult-y in some councils. Its weird enough to show up at a Council event and see a bunch of people singing 'Back to Gilwell' with no context or explanation, especially when you're on the outside. Real off-putting. Though I think I'm lucky in my council that its not much cliquish, and also i think there is an overall recognition of this and efforts to overcome in already being implemented. 

But commissioner corps? Is that really a problem in some places? They are like the quintessential BSA volunteers' volunteers here. There are never enough of them, but I can't imagine a group more representative of what Scouting is about than our commissioners - not at all cliquish, totally open and available, always ready to respond to questions, server cheerfully, etc. So genuinely curious how it works that they'd be grouped together with WB here. 

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As regards Chartered Organizations, I have had mixed experienced. My units have almost always been chartered by churches (Catholic, Methodist) and there it usually works really well. The Church sees Scouting as part of its youth program, and though some are better than others, clearly understand their role as COs. Usually the youth minister or religious education director or family programs minister is the COR. The pastors are supportive, whether active and directly involved or not. 

On the other hand, in my district now, we have international schools that either struggle with the statement of religious principle, or can't be bothered to put any effort in at all. Just getting CORs from schools to have a phone call or do 45-min of training/orientation videos is a bit like pulling teeth. Another set are military base units that struggle to find COs, and half the time make up some "Friends of..." org just to fill out the paperwork. 

Perhaps having a couple of options would be best. Keep the CO model for where it works (like churches) and allow for direct 'ownership' where it doesn't. 

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Another aspect of the Chartered Organization structure is the influence that it gives to outside organizations (such as churches) that sponsor many units.  When the institutional views of the BSA and the institutional views of the outside organization are compatible, the relationship is productive.  When those views diverge -- which we have experienced a couple of times in the last decade -- it is not just major donations to BSA that suffer.  It can reach all the way down to the unit level, with the loss of meeting places and even the loss of membership.

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14 hours ago, carebear3895 said:

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.

The problem I have with popcorn is two-fold.

1. It violates the BSA's own rules on fundraisers.  (product price much be in relation to product value)  I realize they have the authority to authorize any fundraiser they want, but "We can do this and you can't" just always sours the ears of people who hear it.

2. The fact that it seems easy because "This is what we've always done" seems to be the primary motivator for councils.  At this point, this fundraiser is NOT a product sale, it's essentially a donation drive.  Given that fact, why continue using a product that is as fundamentally "Blah" as mediocre popcorn?  Popcorn's only redeeming quality is that it's not going to be viewed as offensive or unpalatable to anyone.  Basically anything you stick cute little cubbies out selling will serve the same purpose as the popcorn does, which is to provide an opportunity to talk people into a donation.

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1 hour ago, dkurtenbach said:

When the institutional views of the BSA and the institutional views of the outside organization are compatible, the relationship is productive.  When those views diverge -- which we have experienced a couple of times in the last decade -- it is not just major donations to BSA that suffer.

"Don't Ask-Don't Tell" was adopted by National in the 1990's at the insistence of certain subgroups active in the BSA.  This caused internal conflict, because faith groups had different positions on the matter.  So, we had certain faith groups insisting on adoption and enforcement of membership standards that were not agreeable to other faith groups.  Certain external advocacy organizations that had positive or neutral views of the BSA instantaneously despise us.  This catastrophic policy change is among the major causes of our big problems today. 

Those of us at the grassroots level can never allow Scouting to officially recognize religious dogma of particular faiths in our membership standards again.  

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Again, wow.  One post referred to a leader being "dismissed for noncompliance "...what does that mean?  Compliance to what...I know of no policy, rule, directive, law, or constitutional provisions that says "ye most leave thy abode and travel into thy lands and peddle the fruit of the corn".  Commissioners,  for the most part they are as rare as jackalopes.  All the discussion about being ruled by some official or the idea that people have some form of authority or jurisdiction over other people is laughable.   The only way to absolutly control people is to control their money or their freedom.  It certenly is in the best interest of an individual leader to be familure with Scouting rules, guidelines, and policies relative the program area in which they are working.  But to think that anyone can compel someone to comply is unrealistic.  People will do what they want to do.  I remember the SPL taking kids on a hike; open showers; smoking; pit toilets; sheath knives, and the gradual changes that removed these things from the Scouting program.  Units are going to do whatever the unit leaders are comfortable with no matter what the rules say.  That's fact, that's how things really work and the whole idea of the BSA Security and Enforcement Branch is rather laughable. 

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38 minutes ago, Mrjeff said:

Units are going to do whatever the unit leaders are comfortable with no matter what the rules say.  That's fact, that's how things really work and the whole idea of the BSA Security and Enforcement Branch is rather laughable. 

Well, I know of a couple of instances in which our Council Deputy Scout Executive/COO was brought in to deal with, shall we say, disruptive influences.  But you have given a good reason for making changes to the current system.  

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14 minutes ago, Mrjeff said:

idea of the BSA Security and Enforcement Branch is rather laughable. 

The issue is whether the concept of having a chartered organization ("CO") for each unit is a "sacred cow" that is no longer an effective membership structure for Scouting.  A number of comments made above show that the well-intended CO concept needs to be re-evaluated. 

One alternative suggested would be to have a "unitary" organization nationally or within a council where all units are directly owned and operated by the BSA.  This is how the GSUSA operates.  Their volunteers sign a contract-like document making clear the unit belongs to GSUSA and that continuing adult leader participation is subject to the approval of GSUSA personnel.  They directly oversee the program and finances of individual GSUSA units.  The BSA system places that oversight and authority in the hands of the CO, which legally-speaking owns and operates the unit with a license (charter) to use the BSA program materials, etc.  A BSA unit is supposed to seek approval from the CO Representative on major decisions.  The choice is simply whether you would rather  have the legal authority to oversee your unit and your personal unit leadership role in the hands of the pastor of the church or in the hands of the person the BSA would identify (maybe a District Executive or District Chair).  Some commenters are apparently comfortable with a DE having direct authority to approve/disapprove the program and finance decisions of their units and their selection as a unit leader -- because they think weak units should improve or go away and a BSA employee would be qualified to make those decisions.  Others are hesitant to become directly subjected to BSA employee/senior leader authority based on experiences with people who might have been overbearing or arbitrary.

GSUSA blogs include sometimes-bitter commentary relating instances where a volunteer claims to have been dismissed by a paid employee for non-compliance with some regulation.  I am not talking about things like drinking or YPT, but things like refusal to follow administrative procedures.  Others grouse about administrative requirements that appear to closely regulate their unit income sources and expenditures.  Whether those postings are overstated or not, it highlights that there are volunteers in other organizations that do not wish to have an employer-employee style relationship with program professionals in their volunteer activities.  [I am not very familiar with the GSUSA and surely have not used the precise language they would use to describe their operations.  My general points are correct though.]  

I think what this really comes down to is that BSA unit leaders are the kind of folks who will not want to subject their units or themselves personally to the direct authority of a BSA employee -- with the notable exception of violations of YPT and similarly-serious health and safety matters.  If the CO system is modified or replaced, I think unit leaders will insist on a reasonable alternative "supervisory" structure.

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