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OldGreyEagle

A Modest Proposal ...

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I dont know if this is heresy or not, but here goes:

 

After a few years of watching this forum and a few others, I have come to the astounding (for me at least) conclusion that the BSA program is administered on a wildly varied basis One troop requires 75% attendance, another 60% and yet another none. A scoutmaster finds the Patrol method too hard to work with and eschews it while another feels appointing SPL is best for this troop. Other Troops require uniforms or no advancement and yet others make the Board of Review for First Class such an ordeal, that in later life survivors of this carnage will view an oral defense of their doctoral thesis as a mere walk in the park.

 

So, I have this idea and I need help filling it out, I have mentioned it before but this time I really want to explore it. The idea is to have a Voluntary program to certify Troops as following the program. As a voluntary program Troops could participate or not, it wouldnt effect their Charter, but certified troops could say we have been certified since 2004 or something like that. Parents looking for a troop could ask if the Troop is certified or if they are in the process to be certified. Again, its not a requirement; its voluntary although the intent is clearly to have certified Troops flourish while the others dont.

 

Troops that seek such certification would have to provide 2 adults who would help certify other Troops. The whole idea is not to add work to the Councils. Such things as records of PLC meetings, results of elections, minutes of the PLC annual planning conference would be reviwed. Documentation of POR job descriptions and adult support would be required. Interviews with key youth and adult leadership would take place. All in the name of assuring the troop is indeed following the program. Maybe it would take a few years to reach certification and the troop could say it was Certified Pending, that would mean they werent there yet, but they were working on it. I know this sounds like a lot of work, and maybe its over kill, yet time and time again we have posters who come here talk about how some scout is being denied advancement because of some silly and arcane rule that someone thinks is necessary.

 

I loved being a Scout, I thought it was the most fun I had as a kid. Being an adult scouter is the most fun I have as an adult. I cant tell you all how much it hurts me when I read a posting here about a renegade scout troop or I talk to an adult who left scouting because it was too much like the military, or took their kids out of scouts because of the local troops idiocy. Currently the situation is best described by Walt Kelly, creator of the classic comic strip Pogo who said, We have met the enemy and they are us, and if we dont address the situation somehow, then the Firesign Theatres I think we are all Bozos on this Bus, will be more true than anything Pogo said.

 

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It sounds like ISO 9001 for Scout Troops.

It could be a good idea but I think one of Scouts draw is that every troop is a little different.

Maybe the parents want the first clas BOR to be tough. You can't do that with a special needs troop though.

Other questions, how often or when do you recertify?

It might work but it will require a lot of planning.

Just my 2 cents.

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Doesn't this, to a certain extent, describe what commissioners are already supposed to be doing?

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Sorry OGE,

Sounds to me like a wacko idea. I don't like it, sounds like we are trying to make everyone the same. Maybe you should ask for harder Quality Unit standards.

 

Paul Lamson

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What Eisely said, except I think it's the UC report card with add'l leaders thrown in. BTW, I don't have a problem with it...nothing to hide!

 

KS

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Yes, we are sometimes our own worst enemy. There is no one that will correct our deficiencies other than ourselves. Quality Unit status is not the pinaccle of achievement some like to think it is. Maybe the first rung on the ladder toward being Certified. How though to get the renegades to work towards certification?

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FScouter, the idea is since its voluntary the renegades (great term) dont have to have their troop certified. But when a parent comes in here and asks what do they look for in a troop, we say BSA certified. Troops that are BSA certified can extoll it, ones that are not, cannot. It voluntary.

 

I agree its what commissioners are supposed to do, but the problem is they don't and havent for a long time. I understand there are cases where the commissioner system works, but how many horror stories have we heard about renegage leaders who invoke executive privileges, add to the rules, etc. It would be a way of saying in this troop, we do it right as certified by a group that isnt from this troop. Thats all.

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I think the idea does have a lot of merit.

While the Unit Commissioner can see things that might not be in line with certain areas of how it should be done. He can advise and offer to help, but when the SM or the Troop Committee informs him that "We don't do it that way" or offers some other excuse, there is nothing that the Commissioner Staff or the District Team can do.

I think it would be wonderful to be able to meet with the CO and say "Hey your troop is certified Troop" Or if things are out of whack to be able to point out why they are not.

Having served as a District Commissioner and having had to sit through meetings where the wrongs are spelled out by the Unit Commissioner,knowing that at the end of the report the final words will be "That's old Fred and he is never going to change."

I do really like the idea and would hope that the Council and District's were kept at bay, so that it was entirely a Troop certification. Nothing to do with popcorn or FOS.

We have a Free Advancement Program, in our Council. It started off as a small list of things that Units had to do in order to receive advancement patches for nothing. Over the years everyone added more and more items to the list. The Commissioners added on time rechartering, the popcorn selling was added as was inviting the FOS presenter, then membership was added, then Quality Unit was added and in the end the leaders just said "What the heck, it just isn't worth it!"

I would just love to be a fly on the wall when a Webelos Scout parent asked one of the "We don't do it that way" Scoutmasters "Why aren't you certified?" I wonder what the answer would be?

Eamonn.

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OGE, The idea is good. But to use an old expression, it may be like trying to reinvent the wheel.(a re-hash of Quality Unit)

I think it would be a difficult thing to keep it an objective type of thing as well. Adult leadership in Scouting seems to thrive on the "good-old boy network" type of environment. And it seems that everywhere I turn, folks are more eager to look for the exception rather than the rule. Most everyone who posts here knows what a battle it is to keep a Troop doing it by the book. I'll keep thinking about your idea though. This is just my initial reaction.

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I love it, OGE!

 

Certainly a lot of thinking and planning and re thinking and replanning would need to go into a proposal like this, but I love the basic premise. There are a whole bunch of units out there (the one my son is in, included) that SAY they are a BSA Troop. In reality, they may be running a youth program based upon the BSA's model, but they are NOT running the BSA program.

 

You have given me a lot to think about.

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OGE,

 

I love the idea. I think a voluntary effort to meet a certain standard that a Troop could use as a badge of honor is great.

 

I think you suffer from the same malady I do. I often get good ideas, and then bog them down with so much detail they break under the weight of all the elements. Eamonn pointed out an example of the same problem. Someone takes a good idea, makes it so hard to implement and / or administer, and it fails. It is the reason I quite often get tagged with the label of someone who "has great ideas that never work".

 

I think scaling back the criteria would give it a better chance of success. And I'd start with taking out anything that is subjective. Are there PLC agendas and minutes? You pass that question. No evaluation of the quality of them. Do your Boards of review last between 10 and 20 minutes? You pass. Set up the measurements to be evaluated like that, and you start acheiving the goals kind of by accident. A BOR would have a hard time retesting a Scout if the time allotted is short. And just like the ISO refernece, the hope would be that if you are doing things right, the "Quality" of the unit will be the result.

 

I have one other comment. Your purpose for presenting the idea is admirable. It seems to me you want to help find a way to encourage units to do it right. In that light, why is it so easy to dismiss asking Unit Commissioners to do it right? You mention that UC's don't and haven't done this for a long time. Is it likely that a certification system might work with UC's, too? Let's face it. If UC's did their job properly, many of the problems you point out can be taken care of, and done "within the program". I know this is tough. Our Troop has had four UC's in the 10 years I've been involved. The first three were either worthless or ghosts. The new one still hasn't been heard from since his appointment in August. Still holding out hope, but...

 

I've reread this post a couple of times and can't shake the feeling it is rambing, but I don't know how to improve it. Sorry if it doesn't make much sense.

 

Mark

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Sounds like heresy to me...if the BSA thought a unit certification process is needed, then they would have developed one. The mantra heard over and over again on this forum is 'just follow the BSA program' - why would OGE want to 'add to the BSA program' by creating a burdensome, time-consuming auditing process at a unit level when the BSA does not already provide such a mechanism (assuming the whole Quality Unit thing is disregarded as meaningless). Sounds like a contradiction to me - 'Just follow the program' but let's add something else to the BSA program.

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In concept, the idea has merit. In practice I think it would be challenging to administer to say the least.

 

I tend to agree with those that say let's look at some of the tools we have, that may be broken or we are not using as well as we could.

 

I think the idea of raising the expectations and documentation requirements to achieve Quality Unit status might be the way to go.

 

Interesting idea though.

 

SA

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Hi All

 

This very idea has been passed around lately on other forums. And its not really new in that Ive heard of a Council trying something similar with a program called the Quality Unit Plus award or something like that. The council issues a special Council Patches to units that went the extra distance or achieved the added requirements over the National Quality Unit requirements. I dont remember the requirements, but they were pretty strict.

 

Mark kind of hit on some requirements I would like to see like the BORs. But I wouldnt look at BOR times, although that is how I watched our BORs while I was SM. I found while I was on district that units that seem to abuse BORs did so more out of ignorance than anything. We tried to solve the problem by TRAINING unit advancement representatives. Unit leaders simply didnt know how or the resources provided that would help perform BORs. So we trained them to train their own units on BORs and Merit Badge Councilors. It made a big difference for the time we did the training. I know we talk about training is already there, but Ive seen this kind of specialized training really help units. It would not help those maverick units.

 

I would love to see a priority on Unit Commissioners. A year or two back a poster threw out an idea of getting rid of commissioners all together. Now Im not hitting at that discussion at all because I think forums are a place to throw out different ideas. But I was suspicious of this poster because he has the reputation of never getting away from the present BSA program. He is not a Out of the Box type person. So I took his idea as something of a rumor from National and threw out on another forum to some folks who would be in the know. They would neither support nor deny that National hasnt at least considered the idea of getting rid of the commissioner corp. I hope it was nothing more than my mind wondering to far out in the field.

 

I believe that many of the problems I see in the program could be solved better with commissioners. Webelos crossover numbers being one of them. I would like to see strong Commissioner Corp programs again.

 

I like these kinds of discussions because they are grass root types of solutions. Great job.

 

BArry

 

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