Re: BSA Policy: The Internet
Settummanque, the blackeagle (waltoml@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU)
Fri, 1 Sep 1995 21:22:28 CDT
Susan Ganther <susan@EMAIL.UNC.EDU> writes:
>I don't see anything in this memo that should be interpreted as stifling
By you or me (as volunteers), no. By youth members, no. By chartered
organizational representatives, maybe. But definately by those
within the profession of Scouting or by those holding National or
Jessi and I was talking about this last night. See, I take things on
this list rather personally, even though I have very little to do with
this list. When the small group of us back in 1991 was sitting
around, charting out electronically how we would like to see Scouts-L
grow, it was very easy for us to "forget the pros" and only allow
volunteers and youth access. However, "Lefty" (Doug) Coleman, Jon
Edison, Don Izard and I all wanted and expressed how much MORE we can
share if our fellow professionals were allowed to not only read, but
to post their comments (instead of reading Mike Walton's reflective
memories of his part-time adventures in career Scouting). I agreed,
and we all asked (pestered) those whom we knew personally at National,
at the Regional offices, at our local Councils to at least "try
We got a lot of "what you're doing is nice, but I don't (have the
time) (have the interest) (don't want to "rock the boat") by my
prescence. But DO send me some of those "transcripts" and I'll do my
best to read and comment to you about what I read".
And they did and we were (and still are) very appreciative.
That's the way we went at things until two years ago, when after Mike
Schalzberg's columns in the Jamboree Journal and our "visually
visable" first "Scouts-L Face-to-Face" at the National Jamboree, folks
started to pay attention at that little list that talks about
Scouting. We recieved more new members after the Jamboree (and after
the Order of the Arrow National Conference last year) than we got at
any one time since the list started. And we received PROFESSIONALS.
Those like Mike, that said "Hey look. I can't and WON'T speak for the
BSA or *my* Council. But I'll help out with some perspective, some
personal opinion. Don't get me wrong. I want to participate more, but
you see, there's something called the Scout Executive's Code out here,
that I said I would follow. This is a JOB, and it pays my morgage, my
car payment, my children's education. It pays for the groceries and
for the electricity and phone to connect to all of you. Please don't
ask me to do more than sit back and observe."
We all smiled, nodded our heads and extended electronic left hands
outward as we welcomed them (and later on, Josh) to the list.
We smiled because that was just like a new Scouter coming to a meeting
and saying "Hey. I don't know about this Scouting jazz. I can teach
first aid. I can drive some kids for you. I can help you make some
decisions. But please don't ask me to be an "assistant" anything!"
We KNEW that those professionals that came here would not only bring
their personal background, but would from time to time share what it
is like to be a professional TODAY, not in Mike Walton's time (early
to mid 80s). They would share information that we would get anyways
(except that unlike Walton's "this is coming", we all knew WHEN it was
coming and WHAT it is exactly!) from written BSA publications (and not
"second hand, no matter the source") and open dialog.
Jessi says that ScoutPro and others are NOT "on the clock" and therefore
nobody should be able to tell them what to do or not when they are
not working. She said that's like the President of the bank where she
works at telling her that since she talks about the recipes that their
bank gives out, that she cannot stay as a administrator on EAT-L or
make postings about their recipes and how they get them.
I responded by explaining that professional Scouters are much like
doctors or lawyers or military people....they are always "on duty"
even when they are not in their offices or doing things "offically"
and that's how the BSA through a local Council can "control their
actions". Their actions are always visable and their statements are
always "on the record" legally. That's why when we've asked ScoutPro
or others questions, it took them some time in order to respond. They
wanted, like I do frequently, to make sure that what they say reflects
what the BSA says (or they can't say it).
I also felt really bad for Mike as well as for Chuck, Paris, Steve and Debbie.
Their participation here (even as little as just making minor comments
reminding us to consult our local Council) means more to them than it
will ever mean to all of us. See gang, we cut them out of much that
we talk about when they are around us. It's not that we don't like
them, but over the years we've developed this "us-them" mentality that
somehow doesn't exist in an electronic "town hall". Here, it made them
(and others) *equal* to all of us volunteers. They could not "tell us
what to do" and we could say whatever we wanted (within reason, remember
the tenor of our list!) and not worry about "will our Scout Executive
hear about this in the morning". They really felt as PARTS of this
list and now, because the BSA hirarchy doesn't remember the basics of
communication (the part about the feedback loop comes to mind here),
they want to continue to place our career staff out of the reach of
you and me.
>It is a simple disclaimer, that makes it clear that we
>do not act as official spokespersons on BSA policy. BSA has numerous
>legal challenges lately, and if our opinions about policy were used as
>official interpretation of policy we would have an extremely tough time
>sorting things out.
Anytime someone here posts a reference to a BSA publication, it
becomes a "statement on BSA policy". That means that we have all at
some time, became "official spokepersons". I think that the average
person can figure out what the BSA (through the "printing" of a
passage from an official publication or through a statement to a
volunteer which is typed in here) is saying as opposed to what we FEEL
should be the "policy" or procedure!
Likewise, when a professional speaks, we should NOT take it as "the
Holy Word" as was the "policy" before this list came along. That was
part of the reasoning for the great success of this list (and other
forums)....that there's NOW some way that we can "find out from a
variety of sources -- including some at our "highest levels" -- what
the REAL answer is". The BSA has responded to our continued inquiries
by attempting to "block communication between national staff and
members of online communication forums", but it hasn't stopped the
flow of good, neccessary, important information from the BSA's
National Office as well as from other offices to all of us here.
We learned how to "question authority" again and in doing so, we have
shared with others how easy it is (was) to get the official BSA
documents and booklets we need to do our jobs well.
>Someone posted a few months ago that a large amount
>of transcripts from on-line computer bulletin board providers had been
>admitted as evidence in a case against BSA. I believe it was one of the
>three G's that was involved.
Yes, it has been admitted as both defense and proscutorial evidence in
a number of cases and appeals, which goes back to 1992. In all of
those cases, however, it was a very small portion of the overall case
and no cases were won or lost nor appealed based on electronic
communications between Scouters. However, you do have a point that
the BSA would rather see a group of volunteers to provide information
which could be correct or not than a professional providing
information at all.
>This the need for the disclaimer to make
>it clear that opinions of BSA members should not be admissable as
>evidence of official policy. If our opinions could be taken as offial
>communications of policy, then we would have a real stifling of
>communication. Everything we wanted to post would have to be approved
>first. The policy stated in this memo enables us to continue to communicate
That's the reason in part why Jon reminded everyone of the statement
in our WELCOME file, and here it is so everyone can once again read
"the advice given here is given on the same basis as what you would
recieve from a friend (which we all hope to become>. None of us
speaks on behalf of a youth organization in any capacity except in the
cases where we have identified ourselves as a volunteer or career
Hope this all adds to the discussion.
Settummanque, the blackeagle... (MAJ) Mike L. Walton (
co-Owner, Blackeagle Services ___)_
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