Re: Friends of Scouting - Yes/No
Steve Tobin (srtobin@MIRAGE.SKYPOINT.COM)
Mon, 25 Sep 1995 23:51:42 -0500
At 07:14 AM 9/23/95 EDT, "Norman J. MacLeod" wrote:
>When it comes to the idea of FOS paying for the salaries of professional
>... After all, Baden-Powell was adamantly opposed to a large
>professional hierarchy in Scouting. He felt volunteers should do the lion's
>share of the work, since that would provide a leadership structure more
>directly responsive to the Scouts the programme was being delivered to.
>BSA has far and away the largest per capita professional leadership group of
>all the Scout Associations that I am aware of. In most other countries, many
>of the tasks given to the BSA "Pros" are handled by volunteers - including a
>lot of the policy-making.
In principle I agree wholeheartedly. In reality, this isn't 1910, and this
isn't any other country. With the pressures on the American family, whether
real or imagined (which is a whole other topic), developing an adequate
volunteer staff is almost impossible. I just went through a period of
several years without an effective District Exec and believe me, I would not
be without a good one again. We also just combined 2 districts and still are
having trouble gettin a complete volunteer organization staffed. Without the
DE to ramrod the process I would not hold out much hope of it happening. (I
would be in full support, however, of returning the direction of the
professional staff to the volunteers, instead of the other way around. But
then, that is another topic, also.)
I do not think a comparison between BSA and other countries is valid,
either. From what I have read the BSA scouting program is considerably
different from that in other countries in both focus and practice. The
histories and traditions, the national temperaments, and the member
expectations are different between countries. Perhaps our system requires a
different management structure. I think we need to look at what OUR needs
are, not what suits someone else.
>Does a service organisation like the BSA really need to be paying the
>enourmous salaries at the top (I understand the Chief Scout Executive's
>salary is well into the six digits...)?
This qualifies as a stipend compared to what a comparable position whould
pay for similar responsibilities in industry.
>Are there aspects of the services provided from the professional staff that
>your Pack or Troop could get by with not having? If so, what might they be?
>How would everyone feel about a larger share of the donated dollar going
>more directly to serving the kids in the programmes?
The council I belong to is a small, mostly rural area, has a minimal
professional staff, and provides the necessities with few "extras". It holds
the council together, manages council camp properties and programs, and
provides the continuity between transient volunteers. While I may disagree
with individual decisions, and would like to see the volunteers take the
lead in establishing directions and priorities, I think the pros provide
good value and nessessary service.
A neighboring council is huge, wealthy, and one of the top ranking metro
councils in the country. It has a large professional staff, and a large,
active volunteer base. It sponsors programs and facilities that my council
couldn't even dream of. It extends scouting to legions of kids with special
programs of many types. From what I have observed of this council in action,
the pros function as the catalyst and initial organizers, rapidly turning
over the programs to the volunteers they recruit. It seems to be an
orgaization that works well, and is pretty efficient in the use of it's
resources, and suited to the society it serves. How much of this would exist
without the professional staff to manage it? How many of these kids would we
write off? It is hard to know.
Anyway, back to FOS...
The system may not be perfect, but it is the one we have for now. And it has
to be supported. I also feel that scouting, for all that it might or could
be, is an excellent program the way it is, and is worth supporting. I have
no problem with soliciting from those that benefit from the program. I
personally contribute as much as I can afford, and I encourage my scouts'
parents to do the same. However, if a family can't afford to contribute, I
have no problem with that either. The program should be there for them,
also. Generally I find the ones who complain the loudest are the ones who
can afford it most. It's just a matter of priorities, I guess.
Steve Tobin, SM | Troop 39 Cannon Falls, MN
firstname.lastname@example.org | Wakpaota District, Gamehaven Council
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