Thu, 23 Jun 1994 14:21:15 PDT
Introduction as SCOUTS-L subscriber.
My name is Christian Jacobi. I am still a quite new to the US way of scouting.
Last september my boy Peter joined the Tiger Cubs and a few months ago I was
asked to become Cubmaster of Pack 6 in Pacific Skyline Council (Palo Alto).
I have nearly 25 years of scouting history, (with the Boy Scouts of
Switzerland) before I moved to the United States ten years ago. This includes
years as child and years as leader. It is not possible to separate out what
time should be counted as child and what as leader. This distinction is not
made by the Swiss Scouts, and if made would be different then what is here in
the US anyway. Now that my boy enters Scouting age I have started again.
I'd like to ask for forgiveness if my messages sometimes will look like written
by a US scouter and sometimes will look like written by a Swiss scouter. I
will try not to take advantage by shifting position too often. However, seeing
other viewpoints can broaden the perspective. I will describe how things are
done (or why) on the other side without implying any side must change. While
scouting here looks somewhat strange and new to me, at least the cub scout boys
seem to behave about the same on both sides. (So do den chiefs, except Swiss
den chiefs have more responsibility).
I have also to ask my Swiss scouter friends for a some forgiveness if I
describe Swiss Scouting like it was 10 years ago. I assume Swiss Scouting must
have changed a lot in the last ten years and nobody might have told me.
I do have strong viewpoints on the coed discussion. The Swiss Boy Scouts and
Girl Scouts did merge since I left. Naturally I can not contribute any
experiences from since it happened when I was in the US. However, my Council
(Limmat) used to have den chiefs, junior and older leaders of both sexes even
before the merger. We did not have any special rules about this. We treated
them like leaders and responsible people, and, thats how they behaved. Of
course it happened that we had to remind junior (and senior) leaders on what is
proper and what is not, but sex issues are no different then bad language or
any other discipline issue. (This is my personal experience from beeing charge
in camps). Nevertheless, I thought the merger was a very good idea because it
gave the Girl Scouts some say in how young female leaders are treated by the
Boy Scout organisation. The "official" way of the merger was that the
organizations (districts) are merged, not the children. Boy Scouts and Girl
Scouts are in different units like US has Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in
different units. Except, a substantial fraction of units have genders mixed
even within the unit. That is not the official way, but it was even done so
before the merger.
I have a four year old daughter, Aline. I hope Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will
merge before my daughter enters Girl Scouts. I will not be able to provide
leadership help to two organisations and will have to choose one.
One of the major differences between the organizations is who is in charge. In
Switzerland the model is that the district (Abteilung) is incorporated as a
non-profit organization (Verein). Whatever body is in legal charge (according
to the bylaws of the district) chooses the district chief (Abteilungsleiter).
The district chief chooses division chiefs (Boy scouts - cub scouts -
explorers) and unit chiefs. The district chief needs to be approved by the
state (canton). The larger state's do have a subdivision into councils
(Korps) which may be considered the states long arm. (The state of Zurich had
16 councils in 1983). The state (or the council) is responsible for training
of new leader; the district is responsible for the boys, the program and
ongoing leader training. National is responsible for woodbadge level training
and for policy decisions. All leaders are volunteers. The new national chief
scout has a half time paid position. The chief scout for the for national
jamboree in 1980 had a paid position. Boy Scouts of Switzerland had about
50000 members (before the merge).
There are large historical differences which make it hard to generalize. One
"standard" way in Zurich is that the council is imposed on the districts. In
these cases the council is quite decentralized fulfilling the requirements of
the state only. In many cases (e.g mine) the council has been founded by
splitting up a large district. In such cases the council is more centralized
and has strong say in district organisation. Such councils might be the
legally incorporated body and the district could be their internal subdivision.
In the state of Zurich 3 councils have united responsibilities and form an
~area~ (Distrikt in German) This was an unsuccessful attempt of the state to
subgroup the councils; only those councils which wanted to work together anyway
did so; the others split apart again.
By doing sport or camping with youth, a Swiss Organization can receive federal
grants money and army materials from a goverment organization called "Jugend
und Sport". The federal body giving out this grants has its own requirements
for the program and for leaders. Luckily this organization can not do all its
supervision by its own and therefore works in partnership with youth
organizations, like Boy Scouts. While this organisation obviously has lots of
influence on the Boy Scouts, it also goes the other way and the Boy Scout
councils have enough clout to deny unwanted supervisors. Most supervisors in
charge of scouts are council scouters anyway. This organisation has no legal
say in the internals of Boy Scouts, but denying money and materials for a camp
can be a pretty strong argument. In my opinion this has worked out quite well
to improve the program quality while still leaving the Boy Scout organisation
I work as a Computer Scientist for the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. I love
the Orienteering sport but I'm still struggling to find those controls.
Woggles approximately in 73; Woodbadge in 79. Swiss Scouts used to call me
"Boccia" but US Scouts are calling me "Chris", "Christian" or "Mr Jacobi".
E-Mail address: Jacobi@PARC.Xerox.com I'll be slow with replys because I'm
leaving for vacation tomorrow.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City