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CynicalScouter

How much "compliance", "respect", "abiding", or "consistent" must you be for a BSA program?

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Posted (edited)

This came up in another subforum, but I thought I'd ask here since this is something that cuts across programs.

I've seen over and over again what I think of as two different mindsets

Mindset 1: You are an independent entity running YOUR youth program that happens to be using BSA's MATERIALS (including logos, images, names, and ranks).

Mindset 2: You are a unit leader/unit committee chair/chartered organization/registered adult leader that is running a BSA program.

I ask because this cuts across everything: YPT, Advancement, Council relations, National relations, Fundraising, etc.

And then I turn to what we all have to sign in order to become adult registered leaders (and the third is for COs)

1) The Adult Application

Quote

I hereby certify that I agree to comply with the rules and regulations of the BSA and the local council, including the Scouter Code of Conduct.

2) The Scouter Code of Conduct

Quote

I will respect and abide by the Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America, BSA policies, and BSA-provided training,

3) The Charter Organization Agreement

Quote

The Chartered Organization agrees to...Conduct the Scouting program consistent with BSA rules, regulations, and policies.

If you are a Mindset 2 person (unit leader/unit committee chair/chartered organization/registered adult leader that is running a BSA program) signing this and actually trying to "comply", "respect", "abide", and "conduct" is easy. You may not always succeed, but you are at least trying.

Mindset 1, however, seems inconsistent. You are signing (and affirming and certifying) you will "comply", "respect", "abide", and "conduct" but do you have any real intention on doing so? Or is it a matter of convenience; where BSA's rules don't interfere with YOUR program great, otherwise they are to be ignored/disregarded?

Put in the negative, how much "noncompliance", "disrespect", "flouting/anti-abiding" and "misconduct/non-conduct" can you have and still call yourself a BSA program?

Edited by CynicalScouter
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It is also important to note the confusing verbiage in many of BSA's publications...

For example, the Age Guidelines for Tool Use...

https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/healthsafety/pdf/680-028.pdf

National goes through all kinds of contortions here...it names these as "guidelines", and then says they are "recommendations", but, rightly defers to manufacturer literature...

"Manufacturers’ literature and age and skill restrictions shall supersede the recommendations on the chart below."

But then does a detour and uses the word "shall", which is prescriptive, rather than a guide or a recommendation...

"If there is a conflict, leaders shall follow the most restrictive guidelines."

This does not instill faith or trust in their ability to issue clear guidance.

And many of these fly in the face of good judgement... I mean, really? To use a 4-wheeled cart (aka, a wagon), a Scout must be over 14 years of age?  This is downright laughable, and I have seen hundreds (literally!!) of Scouters blow this one off entirely... 

Wanna be legalistic?  Look at the chart...I guess a 3-wheeled cart would be fine? 

https://www.123rf.com/photo_17127936_three-wheels-cart.html

How about a five wheeled cart?

Having a military background, I am steeped in some simple language from all military regulations.  Here's an example from one...

1.3. Key Words Explained.

1.3.1. ―Will" and "shall" indicate a mandatory requirement.

1.3.2. ―Should" indicates a preferred, but not mandatory, method of accomplishment.

1.3.3. ―May" indicates an acceptable or suggested means of accomplishment.

1.3.4. ―NOTE" indicates operating procedures, techniques, etc., considered essential to emphasize.

1.3.5. ―CAUTION‖ indicates operating procedures, techniques, etc., which could result in damage to equipment if not carefully followed.

1.3.6. ―WARNING‖ indicates operating procedures, techniques, etc., which could result in personal injury or loss of life if not carefully followed.

1.4. Deviations and Waivers. Do not deviate from policies... except when the situation demands immediate action to enhance safety. The Pilot in Command (PIC) is vested with ultimate mission authority and responsible for each course-of-action they choose to take.

and...

This manual provides broad guidance for aircraft operations. It is consolidated to help aviators to identify and synthesize potentially applicable standards and procedures, and to understand application and waiver authority. General guidance cannot address every situation, therefore, ... commanders should provide additional guidance further supporting safe aircraft operations. In the absence of specific guidance, aircrew will seek clarification and use sound judgment.

It's so simple...yet so difficult ;)

 

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32 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

It is also important to note the confusing verbiage in many of BSA's publications...

Yes. In the Guide to Safe Scouting, regarding the two year rule for tenting now says "Youth sharing tents must be no more than two years apart in age." When it was first rolled out, the language was much less clear, and made it sound like a suggestion...

Another good one is in the NYLT Syllabus, where it suggests a Troop Guide (youth) and an ASM(adult) can go inspect participant campsites... (No one on one contact anyone?)

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10 hours ago, Sentinel947 said:

Yes. In the Guide to Safe Scouting, regarding the two year rule for tenting now says "Youth sharing tents must be no more than two years apart in age." When it was first rolled out, the language was much less clear, and made it sound like a suggestion...

G2SS is interesting to follow there ...  It says ...

  • Tenting
    • Separate tenting arrangements must be provided for male and female adults as well as for male and female youth.
    • Youth sharing tents must be no more than two years apart in age.
    • In Cub Scouting, parents and guardians may share a tent with their family.
    • In all other programs, youth and adults tent separately.
    • Spouses may share tents.

Seems writing should be cleared up.  Points #1 & #2 are the real rules here.  As for points #3, #4 and #5, those are more comments or directions about the program.  At least, they did not use MUST such as #1 and #2.  I'd rather see the RULES (#1 and #2) be called out as they are simple and concise.  The rest are really just commentary.  We often do this when writing requirements.  The requirements are explicit:  MUST.  Then, the requirements are often followed with context (which is what I see #3, #4 and #5).  

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On 10/7/2020 at 2:35 PM, CynicalScouter said:

I've seen over and over again what I think of as two different mindsets

Mindset 1: You are an independent entity running YOUR youth program that happens to be using BSA's MATERIALS (including logos, images, names, and ranks).

Mindset 2: You are a unit leader/unit committee chair/chartered organization/registered adult leader that is running a BSA program.

It's not a real choice.  BSA has a structure to create a youth program that charter orgs can use.  That youth program is part of a brotherhood of other youth programs around the world.  The charter org can create something very special and unique to their organization ... BUT it's without the boundaries of the scouting program.  

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2 hours ago, fred8033 said:

Youth sharing tents must be no more than two years apart in age.

That's another one that brings out the legalists...and you wouldn't believe the discussions I have heard on this (actually, you probably would)...

Scouter 1: "12 years, 364 days old cannot tent with 15 years, zero days old.  15 minus 12 is 3!  But on his birthday tomorrow, he can! (15 minus 13 is 2)"

Scouter 2: "Oh no, tomorrow, he is 15 plus one day, minus 13 plus zero days is 2 years and a day...no tenting together!"

Me: "What about Leap Years?" and run away smh...

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On 10/7/2020 at 3:35 PM, CynicalScouter said:

Mindset 1: You are an independent entity running YOUR youth program that happens to be using BSA's MATERIALS (including logos, images, names, and ranks).

Mindset 2: You are a unit leader/unit committee chair/chartered organization/registered adult leader that is running a BSA program.

Most units I know are following:

Mindset 3: You are a unit leader/unit committee chair/chartered organization/registered adult leader that is running a Scouting program based on the materials provided by the BSA.

 

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On 10/7/2020 at 2:35 PM, CynicalScouter said:

Mindset 1: You are an independent entity running YOUR youth program that happens to be using BSA's MATERIALS (including logos, images, names, and ranks).

Mindset 2: You are a unit leader/unit committee chair/chartered organization/registered adult leader that is running a BSA program.

 

I believe there are a very few scouters who are clearly of Mindset 1, but would never admit it because they believe they are within the boundaries of the BSA program. 

I believe most of the rest of us act with the intentions of Parkmans choice"

15 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Mindset 3: You are a unit leader/unit committee chair/chartered organization/registered adult leader that is running a Scouting program based on the materials provided by the BSA.

". But, for different reasons, unintentionally cross the line of Mindset 1.

There is a theory that a pilot can't fly 100 miles without breaking at least one FAA regulation because there are so many, . Scouting is much the same. I doubt that a single unit does an activity without breaking some rule. 

I guess the question is really seeking out scouters who create a scouting program that isn't under the heart of the scouting guidelines. Fair enough. My experience is that those scouters have a very different and personal goals than developing character growth of the scouts. We had one scouter on the forum a few years ago who believed the BSA Mission and Vision were silly because they had nothing to do with scouts growing from independence in the outdoors. He preached scouts learning from camping out doors without adults, but his methods were extremely hands on to shape the scouts to his idealistic Boy Scout. Frankly, he was dangerous and I believe was eventually driven out out of the program. 

Barry

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19 hours ago, Eagledad said:

There is a theory that a pilot can't fly 100 miles without breaking at least one FAA regulation because there are so many, . Scouting is much the same. I doubt that a single unit does an activity without breaking some rule.

There are a great deal of rules in flying.  It is an extremely complex activity.  That is also one of the complaints you hear from volunteers as they peel the curtain back on Scouting...the rule set is complex.  But that is as it should be...it, also, is a complex activity (or should we say a collection of complex activities) with OPK (other people's kids)

Unfortunately, in both flying and Scouting, breaking the rules, intentionally or not, can have catastrophic consequences.

https://www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/safety-moments/

The best pilots, and Scouters, first know the rules, and second, strive diligently to follow them, even if they are inconvenient.  This is discipline...

I do ridicule the rules and rulemakers, but strive to follow them.

 

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Use your common sense.   And remember that the bureaucrats/lawyers who wrote the fine print don't have any common sense.

"Help other people at all times", one of the very basic tenets of scouting, is a higher law than "don't ring the Salvation Army kettle bell in uniform".    With the current PR situation, BSA should be grateful the the Salvation Army doesn't have a rule prohibiting Scouts from ringing the bell in uniform. 

 

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One of the great failings of writers of bureaucratic practices is to lose sight of the goal(s).  (Another is that others must understand, not just the authors.)

When I joined AT&T,  and its 1,000,000+  employees, it had many, many shelf feet of all-black ring binders of Bell System Practices ("BSPs"), including rules on how toilet paper would be installed in the holders (over, not under).  There was an entire department that made sure you did not have office furniture above your station in the bureaucracy .  They were informally called the "Furniture Police."  ("It does not matter if you bought that picture.  It's an oil, and you can only have a print.") These were the days of:  "Telephone sets come in black." 

My new boss, the General Counsel, asked me to never forget that "buried in there somewhere is a business that needs running to the end that the telephones work and revenue is earned."  Since I had not had time to become a "Bell Head," it sounded good to me.  I found it was a controversial attitude to many.  (The "Standards" folks launched a big "push" for a "Two-Million Cycle Set" -  a residential telephone set that could make 50 outward telephone calls a day for 109+ years.  It was designed, and prototyped, but rationality intervened.) 

In due course, AT&T broke itself up, to the end that it would, it assumed,  replace IBM, and then it ceased to exist (The brand was purchased in 2005 by the current entity using "AT&T."). (I repurposed many of the black binders.  They were very high quality.  I especially liked the 4160-9 (246).)

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