Re: AAC Summer Camps (LONG!!) 1/2
settummanque, or blackeagle (blkeagle@DYNASTY.NET)
Mon, 23 Jun 1997 14:43:04 -0500
*this posting is LONG*
I am putting on my former Paraprofessional's hat to respond to BigEd's
concerns; Judy, you and other current or former pros are welcome to add or
subtract to my comments here based on your experiences.
Remember, Ed, I *don't speak for the BSA*, but I have had a lot of
experiences both professionally and on a volunteer basis that serves as the
basis for my comments.
You were responding to comments with regards to the operation of the Atlanta
Area Council's BSA summer camp operation:
>* Rather that try to build up some continuity and experience with the Camp
>& Program Director Positions, Atlanta Area Council plays a kind of musical
>chairs, rotating their DE's into the camp positions each year so they can
>all get that career experience and advance. New DE's are almost always
>given camp duty, a kind of trial by fire. There is a belief that if a DE
>can handle camp well, he should be able to handle anything in the district.
This is a NATIONAL tool, Ed, not just an Atlanta Area Council tool. Part of
the requirement for the completion of the National Executive Institute (NEI)
and for the Professional Training Award calls for professionals to serve in
roles dealing with camp operation and program. New professionals and
pre-professionals are encouraged and in many Councils TOLD that they will
spend on a rotating basis, as Associate Camp Director, Program Director or
Camp Director with a Cub, Scout and Exploring outdoor camping program.
This is so that as they mature within the program, they can easily "slide into"
vacancies caused by the inability of the primary professional Scouter to
recruit and maintain the "right kind of person" needed for camp operation in
those critical jobs. Most importantly, Ed, so that when THEY become Field
Directors or Scout Executives, that THEY have more than a passing knowledge
of camping operation, support and programming needed for a successful
experience for Scouts.
I was given camp duties and worked at Camps McKee and Blanton as part of my
preprofessional experiences. I worked alongside the Program Director and it
was a great experience for me. Because I attended the National Camping
School for conservation-enviornment directors in the past, I later got to
serve as Conservation Director while at camp. I can use that experience and
the work alongside of volunteers and Scouts in working with my District. As
I've stated here in the past, Summer Camp is a "mini community" and allows
Scouts and Scouters to truly experience the ideas of citizenship, character
and personal fitness development.
> Summer Camp is not a training ground for DE's. If a DE has done an
>excellent job, they are replaced, if they do a terrible job...there is
>always next year.
That's true for the most part. It's IMPORTANT that the entry-level
professional Scouter understands the correlation between camp operation and
program and District operation and program. Summer camp gives that
professional an in-depth look at how he or she are doing things both within
the camp environment as well as within the District.
>Volunteers never have a shot at the top job because AAC
>regards its two camps as a DE training ground.
May be true there, Ed...but many Councils routinely give either the
Associate or Camp Director's position to a professional. NOT BOTH. This
allows that new professional to work alongside someone that he or she has
with before; with others that he or she has never worked with before; and in
a different situation than "the grind of the District".
It's NOT a "vacation" period and SHOULD NOT BE an "bennie" for "doing well
in your District" over the past year (even though there are Councils that
use summer camp leadership as just that).
> The effect of this effort
>is you often have people in the top jobs who do not want to be there.
So sad, too bad, call your Dad and be glad.
There's a LOT of things that entry-level professionals DO NOT WANT to do.
For starters, they do NOT want to be in "monthly mentoring sessions" with
their Field Director or District Director. They do NOT want to be in marathon
meetings all day long on a Saturday only to discover that the decision was
made by the Council Executive before the start of the meeting and you'll all
there to "make sure his reasoning was sound". They DO NOT want to be at
United Way "progress lunchoens" in which they are holding down a table
(which, by the way, THEY paid for out of their salaries!) to show group
support for the Council's participation. I can go on and on....the bottom
HEY! They CHOSE to enter the profession, and yeah, summer camp operation
isn't listed on that job description. But it's a PART OF SCOUTING and as
a professional, THEY NEED TO BE A PART OF SCOUTING.
And yeah, there are a FEW Councils that use Summer camp leadership as a
"bully club" for those less-than-average performers. It happens, just like
many Districts offer the "Exploring chair" to someone that "we don't really
want on our committee...but he's there".
But Ed, when I was offered those "bully clubs", I learned how to not only to
lessen the blows upon me by it, but I've managed to transform it into a
walking stick that I can point to those others and say "See THAT....*smiling*
MY volunteers and I...WE did that!" Those whinning DEs and DDs that say
"I'm being punished"....yeah...you're being punished if you LET yourself be
punished. Take that opportunity and make money for your Council and get
exposure for yourself (and do so well enough that they won't fool with you
being there, embarassing them again)!!
>* Leaders Guides are late. Some years AAC does not get their camp leader's
>guides out until February! Camps are slow to book, and considering the
>number of councils and units, it is incredible that Bert Adams struggles to
>fill three weeks or Woodruff does not even fill up five or six. The
>council needs to get some new ideas to breath some life into camp sign ups.
That's an occurrance in a LOT of Councils, Ed. A great deal of that has to
do with those lazy Scout leaders and Exploring leaders (and their
Scoutmasters and Advisors!) deciding at the last possible second or not at
all and "showing up" for camp. Some of it can be traced back to those
District professionals that have not "touched base" with each and every
Scoutmaster and Advisor and asking them point blank: "When are you going to
summer camp?" and when they answer "I don't know", tell them that you'll be
back to find out when.
And COME BACK and find out. After about two or three times of this, they'll
get the message: You need to go to summer camp, and I'll keep bugging you
until you tell me what your summer camp plans are!
>* AAC is now a Supply Division Only affair. While some might cheer the
>National Supply Division and AAC's teaming up to build two new Trading
>Posts at your summer camps I am not applauding too much.
That's a volunteer decision at the Council level, Ed. I can't speak to
Council financial decisions, only because there's so many variables involved
in those decisions. Lots of Councils have decided that the Supply Division
offers the best deal for their bottom lines. Others have continued to
outsource their inventories to whomever is cheapest and best for the Scout
and Scouter attending camp. I do agree that the Supply Division should be
the primary but not the only supplier of items at a summer camp operation.
There's just too much stuff tied to the BSA for it not to be.
>* The staff's at your two camps have little input into the development of
>the leader's guide. This is designed by committee, that, in itself is not
>a bad thing, but your DE Program Directors are often handed a guide and
>told to execute it. Since they are DE's with districts to run, FOS to
>raise, a Day Camp going on in the middle of camp, etc. they are happy to
>run with a plan that was designed by others and which involves a minimal
>time investment on their part. It stifles creativity.
But that's how Districts are "assummed" as well, Ed. When a new District
Executive comes in, many of the existing programs and procedures are from
the "last guy or gal" and you just have to go along with it until the end of
the program year, whereby you can work with your volunteer staffs and rework
the ideas and plans, taking the District into a new and *your* direction*
(of course, with lots of guidance from your District or Field Director!)
Again, there are some DE/EEs that will take that plan, look at and say
"That's a bunch of hooey!", toss it into the trash can somewhere, take out
one of their several binders from National Camping School and from Camp
Administration courses offered in each Region, and make an outline for a NEW
Leaders' Guide. Then, finding those Scouters and other professionals in his
or her District, he or she "runs it through them" and issues it upon approval!
That's IN ADDITION TO all of the other stuff that the professional has to do.
I'll have to answer the rest in the followup to this posting!
(c) 1997 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") (502) 827-9201
(settummanque, the blackeagle) http://dynasty.net/users/blkeagle
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