Re: The 90% Staff (long)
Craig Bond (CraigB1051@AOL.COM)
Sun, 26 Feb 1995 23:13:41 -0500
Awww, gee. And I promised my Field Director I'd stay out of
program. I've successfully stayed away from Pinewood Derbies
every since that volunteer went and complained that I violated
the rules when I was judging one by letting a kid change his
nails before his car had been officially accepted. And I've
always let the volunteers run the camporees, day camp...I just
collect fees and buy the supplies, send thank yous to the
National Guard, and so on.
And here I go and get involved in a Tiger Cubs, B.S.A.,
controversy. This is it! I'm saying this, and will say no more.
There are many issues raised in Steve Beluch's letter, and I
simply cannot, partly due to lack of credential and partly due to
lack of time, answer them all, but I feel an irresistable urge to
respond in part when Steve writes, "I don't expect the
professional to run a program, but I do expect that a
professional to be knowledgeable of How a program works and that
the units are correctly utilizing the program(s)."
Steve, there's an incredible leap from the first part of that
dependent clause to the last.
Let me say that most new DEs, and most of the 3,000 or so of us
are DEs, and DEs are mostly new (<5 years experience) are also
new to Scouting and our initial program training probably comes
from volunteers, or on the fly from the books we read and what we
observe from our peers. See my District Operations Primer last
week if you want to know what a DE spends most of his time doing.
Well, I'm not saying the people in Houston are right, and I
didn't even know about the sins of the people in St Louis and
Atlanta. I'm simply wondering if the sinning began with the
professional staff or if they simply took a bite of the apple
their Eve volunteers held out? And while both Adam and Eve were
properly punished, well, there's the rub, isn't it? 90/10,
80/20, 50/50... does it matter? SEs do not have the right to
encourage mis-use of the program, but I'm not prepared to say
that they *have* encouraged mis-use. Is it possible they have
only been unsuccessful in discouraging? For that matter, I'm
also not prepared to accept your premise that the "mis-use" I
think you're ascribing to Houston, et al, is "a-buse" of the
I'd like to suggest here that your staff (me and the rest) does
not rule the roost quite as much as your assumptions suggest.
Someone has said, Boy Scouts of America is a movement of
*persuasion*, not of dictation. Oh, yes, I know sometimes an odd
council here or there does something wacky like show up at a
district committee meeting with rejected Local Tour Permits and
cashier checks threatening to revoke charters for apparently
minor transgressions. Golly, so the SE is an ex-NFL jock and
can't spell persuasion so he thinks "block and tackle"; he's the
exception that proves the rule. And as Professor Settumanque
pointed out, his goal was noble even if his technique was
(BTW, my English teacher always taught me that the word "but"
negates all the argument preceding it in the sentence. You've
given a real good example of how that works.)
You also said, "Most volunteers really don't know what a DE, SE
or Field Director does, all they understand is that you are a _P
A I D_ BSA employee and as such they look to you as the "last
word" wheather that's fair or right is subject for a different
debate. Its like going to the hardware store and asking a
question on plumbing. We all know the poor guy is not a plumber,
but we ask his advice anyway."
Interestingly, I'm not actually a paid BSA employee, even thought
I am a Senior District Executive in the Boy Scouts of America
organization. I just today cashed my paycheck and it came from
the Istrouma Area Council, BSA, which is *chartered* by the
National Council, BSA, but is not a part of that legal entity.
In one sense that is a technicality, but in a key sense, it is
not. It *is* a technicality in that it is the understandable
basis for the typical volunteer's misperception that a
professional is the "last word". I think that's fair even though
it isn't right, and it is the primary reason I had chosen not to
be an anonymous "lurker" on this list -- I hoped that by
participating in some of the debates, I can help you, and others
through you, to understand how at least one paid employee
approaches his job.
The sense in which it is not a technicality has to do with how a
Scout Executive may feel he has the right to approach an issue
such as this as he does. I'm not familiar with the Atlanta or St
Louis program, and have only a scant knowledge of the Houston
program (both relative to Tiger Cubs, B.S.A.), and am not trying
to justify wholescale revision of National program guidelines,
only to help you understand *how* it can happen.
BTW, need I point out that if the hardware store guy gives you
the wrong advice, you could end up all wet? It is your
responsibility to do the right thing whether or not he tells you
the shower head he's selling you is good for sealing the end of
pipe against leaks.
The final point I'd like to comment on is when you said "It boils
down to the fact the the BSA brings programs to the units _T H R
O U G H _ the local council, if the local council doesn't do its
job then don't blame the volunteers! Thus, 90% blame!"
With respect, Steve, I disagree with your concept of how a
council works, particularly relative to implementing new programs
-- such as the New Scout Patrol concept, for example, or even
such a major program as Tiger Cubs. Existing units learn of
programs through a variety of sources (including SCOUTS-L, for
example), and may learn imperfectly. This may be the fault of
the professionals for failing to communicate to training, unit
service, or other volunteers the importance of holding sufficient
training sessions, or of encouraging every relevant volunteer to
attend... well, the truth is, it's a shared responsibility, a
partnership. And we don't necessarily need to actually *blame*
anyone, but if we do, I'd bet close examination would show
there's ample for everyone.
You closed, "What I want doesn't really matter! What does matter
is that the boys get a program that is designed for their age and
comprehension and to provide a method of introducing them A N D
their parent(s) to scouting."
Now, we agree completely, I think. On both counts. It doesn't
much matter what I want, either. And what matters is that the
boys get a quality program and a method to introduce them and
their parents to Scouting. Are you convinced that the
Houston/Atlanta/St Louis conspiracy doesn't meet those
objectives? I dunno. What I do believe is with you that giving
Tigers belt loops and stuff sends them the wrong message. What I
do believe is that we need to get these kids involved here at
this age, not in some of thge competing programs that have far
less supervision, training, etc., that don't teach values,
leadership, citizenship... and in some cases physically endanger
the kids. And what I do believe is that we need to identify, at
a very early stage, those parents who will accept training and
take leadership positions and care about the program -- as you
very clearly do.
Happy Mardi Gras!
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City