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"The fact is that there are too many zealots to have meaningful contributions to the BSA site."


There are 'zealots' and then there are 'zeolots'.


How do you separate the knowledgable, passionate people from the nut jobs??


Problem is that too many at National either can't or won't bother to figure out which is which.



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Doc Meyer,"The fact is that there are too many zealots to have meaningful contributions to the BSA site. Look around this place. Training zealots have already permeated most elements of the BSA."


Zealots, a word use by others to describe those who have years of dedication to the program and have a strong passion in ensuring it stays focused on boys and scouting skills. Usually used by those who don't want to operate the program in accordance with current policies and procedures.


Doc Meyer,"Camp school syllabbi have gotten a major re-write thanks to both executives and volunteer Scouters."


Yes, but is the rewrite what was needed to put on a effective scout camp using scout skills and scout craft as a primary focus of camp. Who were the volunteer Scouter's and how were they picked.


Doc Meyer,"I don't blame the BSA for wanting to control methods of input from the field."


I will. Who better to give input to the program than those who have been working in the trenches for years and years.


Unlike many of the so called professional staffers who have never been in the trenches or even know what BSA was until the graduated from college and was looking for a job. I have DE who had no scouting experience in fact they were not even scouts as a youth.


It does not take much reading of the innovations proposed by the professional staff to realize many of them know nothing about the program at the level where the rubber meets the road.



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Doc and Seattle,


One of the challenges for the "zealots" is that some of them lived through the fiasco of "Urban Scouting" from 1972 to 1979. That hurt the movement so bad that Green Bar Bill had to come out of retirement in 1978 in order to save the BSA. And, IMHO, even he wasn't able to fully save the movement as I am seeing the repercussions of that today. By that I mean we have leaders with little to no outdoor skills from the period, or were never involved in Scouting as a youth.


And if Green Bar Bill wasn't able to fully turn around the fiasco of the 1970s, then the BSA is really in trouble if they repeat the mistake of taking the "Outing out ScOuting," because GBB has gone home and no one, repeat NO ONE, could possibly fill his shoes (Sorry KUDU but you're a size or two short ;) )


Boys want adventure, they want the excitement, they want to test themselves in the outdoors. If we give that up, or water it down, then we lose. But more importantly, the boys lose.



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I came along as AS in 1981 then SM from 1982-1987, so that was a little before my time.


I never heard Scouters complaining about that at the time. And frankly, if that is causing the oversensitivity I've seen displayed recently, thirty years after the event, it amounts to neurotic behavior.


Frankly I see my drawn to support the programs of the Chief Scout Executive and his innovative programs after being exposed to the zealotry of one of the hard liners around here.


You got to be smarter than that if you want to sell your ideas to other people.

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I guess I dont understand where this discussion went, who are the zealots or hardliners.


I can speak of innovations because I have been blessed to be the creator, planner and instigator of a several innovations in our area. I learned A LOT from those innovations. While most of the innovations were a success in their own right at the time, they dont exist anymore except for a few Webelos things and the District training schedule I helped design.


Here are a few basic generalities (principles) I learned that really are needed for real innovation to take place.


1. The innovation needs to require the same number or less volunteers to gain traction and hold. Most Webelos Crossover Innovations (including mine) die under the weight of needed volunteers to make it work. For an innovation to succeed, it must work within the system and not pull more volunteer hours away from the already overworked workers.

2. Simplicity is a must. If the innovation is to maintain longevity, it must be simple enough for the generation past the creator of the innovation to take the ball and run. Its easy for the Type A person to create and run a successful innovation because they know where to pull the strings in their complicated system. But once that person leaves, who takes over. The innovation must run under its own inertia and be easy for most anyone to maintain.

3. The innovation must fit within the BSA program so it doesnt corrupt other parts of the program. One example is corruption is District MB Fairs. Some of our troops got so used to MB Fairs and Summer Camps that their scouts dont work on MBs at any other time of year. Scoutmasters dont know or understand the BSA guidelines for a scout to even sign up for a MB.


I have found through the years that if the innovation cant work under those three principles, it will likely fail, or require a lot of maintenance. A few examples of Nationals innovations that I think are failing is Tigers. Since I have been a Scout Leader, Tigers has gone under three major program changes by National and many little changes over the years. Yet, it still suffers under huge losses of numbers. The primary principle that hurts Tigers is Principle 1, it requires way to many volunteers to run successfully. Its top heavy and makes the whole Pack program unstable.


Another program is the Venture Patrols. That innovation suffers from Principle 3. It pulls the older scouts away from the main troop program under the disguise of keeping the older scouts motivated in the program. But in reality it forces the younger scouts to perform older scout duties while older scouts sit around theoretically planning one or two high adventure trips a year. Of course the Venture Patrol was a patch to fix another innovation that has not really panned out as well as hoped, New Scout Patrols.


In my own experiences, I have run very successful innovation programs only to watch them disappear when I moved on. What I have learned is the BSA in general has a pretty good understanding of the Big picture and tries to build low maintenance small pieces that fit in the big picture. If the vision of the small piece is too complicated for the average volunteer to understand, then it will fail from a lack of performance in the big picture. For example, I was given the go ahead to experiment with a more boy run style of Council JLTC. It was a huge success that was growing fast in numbers. The problem was the average volunteer was finding it difficult to manage a program where the intention was a one week course that boys learned from their experience, not the instruction. Once I saw that, I killed the program and replaced it with NYLT. My innovation was a great course as long as I was there to pull the right strings for success, but once I left it was a huge burden on the council. It was pulling down the unit JLTs because council didn't know how to fit them in the big picture without me. leaving a program that would certainly created mess for someone else to clean up wasnt my style and it wasn't the first innovation I killed for the same reason. NYLT fits under the BSA big picture of training. I dont care for it much, but it does work.


So, when I hear of new innovations from National on down to the unit level, I look at the innovation from the filter of those three principles. I will say that in general, its hard to improve an already good program like the BSA.




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dkurtenbach writes:


Kudu, are you available to sit on the panel?


On what topic?


I do not enjoy travel, and you can get along fine without me :)


The Three Purposes of Scouting: Our True Timeless Values


Over the years you have written about the Federal Charter along the same lines as I have. Its coming centennial provides the opportunity to present it in a new light: Old is new again.


Ex-Webelos to Scout Transition


The ability to walk into an auditorium and register 28% of the sixth-graders is good skill for Commissioners to have. You could master that. Let me know if the presentation on my Website leaves questions unanswered. I've been meaning to revise it for a long time.


One topic that needs consideration is the ethics of the Promise of Scouting. A Commissioner would have to show "favoritism" in regards to which units he sends the Scouts after promising them the program outlined in the Federal Charter.


"Ex-Webelos" dropped out for a reason.


Yours at 300 feet,






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Very interesting comments, Eagledad.



As District Membership Chair since 2004, I've decided that one critical thing that all Cub Packs need to be able to do every year in order to survive and thrive is get a new Tiger Cub Den up and running with an effective program.


The "Shared Leadership" concept is designed (I suspect) to get new parents used to being a part of the den and pack leadership. Usually I don't see that happening the way it's supposed to.


(I sent a link off to my Tiger Cub Den Leader on to an excellent thread on how to do that, but good ideas aren't really enough.)



For three years I've formed a "Bobcat Den" of all new boys recruited in the spring, and walked those new boys and parents through the Bobcat requirements, an outing and an overnight camp in June where the Bobcat Den is disbanded and the new boys enter their regular dens for the next year.


My aim has been to show parents and boys what a quality program looks like and feels like and to motivate them to help with the program, and to identify and recruit new Den leaders and other leaders as needed.


That has worked pretty well for me.


I also scheduled and promoted a Tiger Cub Den Leader training at our June Roundtable. The idea was to encourage all Tiger Cub Partners to learn about the program in some detail in an hour and a half. The regular district Cub Scout training was offered in March or April, too early for new Tiger Cub parents to participate in, since it was before most recruiting was done.


That was a good idea I think, but I only had one Tiger Cub parent (from my pack) attend and one Scoutmaster attend from a pack for which I'm Commissioner. Getting the word out and getting parents motivated was not succesfuly beyond those people I worked with myself.


So getting Tiger Cub programs started remains a challenge and a leading way for packs to become weak. However, if Tiger Cubs weren't there I suspect the same problem would be replicated with getting new Wolf dens started.

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Yah, hmmmm...


I get where Eagledad is comin' from, and I agree with a fair bit of it, eh? Certainly agree with #1, yeh can't create an innovation that requires more resources (human or physical) without also a way of providin' those resources. Lots of innovations fail in that way. I think some of the "urban scouting" stuff others are talkin' about failed in this way. The BSA had a lot of people who had the personal knowledge and resources to do outdoor program. They didn't have a large pool of people with da skills or interest to do urban non-outdoor program. And "one minute manager" type trainin' ain't near enough to give 'em that skill set, even if they wanted to go there.


Also agree with #3, eh? I've often talked about how da first duty when evaluating a potential new program or policy is to examine the potential unintended consequences. Eight times out of ten, they're worse than the potential gains.


I'm all in favor of program simplicity, too, eh? Da BSA program is properly just an outline or loose structure that allows folks to build their own program within it.


But I'm less impressed by Eagledad's description of #2, and I think he may have learned da wrong lesson from his experiences. He's certainly right in that most programs rely on da unique personal skills of an individual leader "pulling the strings" so to speak. Anyone who's worked with a lot of troops sees that. It does have risks, and is never perfectly sustainable. But in his NYLT example, it seems he's advocatin' for more like generating da least-common-denominator program, just because it feels more sustainable. That to my mind is settlin' on mediocrity.


I prefer innovations that push things to a high level, relying on the folks who have talent and enthusiasm for the work "pulling the strings." Yep, they're not sustainable without other folks with talent & enthusiasm steppin' in. But while they're in place, they have a bigger impact, both short & long term. They're better than da least-common-denominator program. And I've always been a Baden-Powell style fellow, eh? Yeh need to find people with talent, Scoutmasters of "the right sort". Yeh can't successfully "train" folks without da talent for youth & outdoors work to muddle through, even if yeh make it "simple."


So I guess it's just that I think in terms of people, more than program. Let good artists paint, don't make 'em use a paint-by-numbers coloring book. And if your business is all about painting, don't settle for folks who can only succeed with coloring books. Yeh need to find, feed, and care for your Eagledads.


Now, yeh can't always be innovating, eh? ;) Personally, the best combination I find is often when a talented fellow innovates, and then a friend who has been supportin' for long enough to understand takes over as more of a manager. Yeh lose somethin' in that transition, but the innovator often tends to be a guy who steps on toes, eh? The manager settles things down and provides some space for da next leader to step forward. A new "baseline" if yeh will. Then yeh hope the next fellow is one of the best young people who came out of the innovator's system and is another talented innovator. ;)




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Barry, nice summary of guidelines for successful innovation. The really difficult one, I think, is number 3: "The innovation must fit within the BSA program so it doesnt corrupt other parts of the program." Many suggestions for new programs, or new ways of running the old programs, involve blowing up the problematic current feature or process and installing the new thing -- without giving much thought to how that will affect things upstream and downstream of the problem area.


Dan K.

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Kudu, I think that the Congressional Charter for BSA -- expressing the statutory purposes for BSA -- is old enough and ignored enough that most folks would consider it a new idea:


"The purposes of the corporation are to promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using the methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916."


United States Code Title 36, section 30902. Unfortunately, I'm afraid it would fail under all three of Barry's principles of successful innovation. It would fail under the first principle because it will require more volunteers to train Cub Scouts and some Venturers in Scoutcraft. The second principle calls for simplicity, and adding both a Scoutcraft requirement and unfamiliar methods from 1916 would make Scouting more complicated. And of course, an emphasis on Scoutcraft and the type of challenging requirements boys had to complete in 1916 would gum up the advancement system something awful, as well as adversely affecting the business of bakeries and tube floating outfitters along lazy rivers nationwide. Sorry, dude.


Dan K.

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Rigid adhearance to the Congressional charter as Holy Writ would rule out the Cub Scout program, since it wan't around in 1916. No Webelos or Tiger Cubs either ----sorry!


No Leave No Trace --- keep those saws and axes SHARP ---you will be clear cutting yourself a campsite!



If you want to argue against innovation --- fine. Argue against it on it's merits. Change for change sake is obviously a worthless goal as is refusing to innovate because something wasn't around in 1916.






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I see the Charter as an ideal incubator for innovation.


You see, there is no "only" in the Congressional Charter. As long as BSA carries out those purposes, there is no reason BSA can't do other things (like Cub Scouting and Venturing) as long as those other things don't conflict with the statutory purposes. The only real issue with the Charter is what the word "methods" means in the phrase "using the methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916." That's a topic for another conversation, but personally I think it leaves plenty of room around the edges for innovation. (If I didn't, I wouldn't be moderating a course on Innovation!)


Dan K.

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Nah, da charter is an anachronism.


Congress stopped issuing those things several decades ago. Really they should just unwind 'em all. They're an oddity under the law. And unfortunately in da BSA's case, the charter is used to defend a permanent monopoly of the scoutin' movement by one corporation. That's more old-style-Soviet than it is American.


So I'm in favor of repealing the thing. We don't really abide by it, and it's a legal oddity that doesn't comport well with our values.


Folks have brought up some other "old" innovations along the way, though. Cub Scouts. Tiger Cubs. Varsity. Venturing. Yeh might look at da history of the OA innovation. The 1970 revision materials. The 1980 ODLR uniform. The 1990 revision materials that did away with youth on BORs and added NSPs. The introduction of COPE. Yeh can also look at da G2SS additions / innovations over the years.


Some other areas that merit potential new innovation: Integratin' LNT. Working with public schools that are no longer charter partners. Visible, effective fundraising that offers better value than popcorn. More kid-friendly uniforming. How to reach kids and adults with modern technology effectively.




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