Re: Communications (was: camp nicknames)
settummanque, or blackeagle (blkeagle@DYNASTY.NET)
Fri, 25 Jul 1997 15:46:05 -0500
Mark Arend illustrated a problem that we discussed last spring on this list.
It seemed that "overnight", the BSA's health and medical record forms
policies changed and it left a LOT of units running around at almost the
last minute to "meet those new changes".
He writes and brings up the question:
>This is not an isolated incident; it's an especially glaring example of an
>ongoing problem. The BSA in general seems to do very poorly at
>communication. A lot of the discussion on this List seems to be what
>various rules "really" mean. If they were written or explained clearly in
>the first place there wouldn't be this uncertainty.
>Do others see this as a problem or am i just sounding off about >something
I know nothing about? wouldn't be the first time ;-)
This is a VERY VALID problem, Mark, and it brings to mind the purpose of
this list as well as the core reason why this list and all of the others
like it have not only blossomed but also have exploded with membership and
You must remember that the BSA has a very "narrow" (some would say
"retentive", but that's going a little too far, in my opinion) way of
distributing information. It STOPS at the local Council, which has the
right to release or to hold to themselves anything sent from the National
Office which applies to programming (or anything else).
They do so with at their own risk and a large risk to the program of their
Council and in return, to the national program as well.
A local Council, for example, can take the BSA's Safe Guide to Scouting,
reprint it and provide additional guidance which is far more restrictive
than the National policies. That's fine, as long as all of the registered
volunteers directly working with units and their Commissioner staffs get the
same information. Lots of Councils have done just that, and its just as
"official" as the National information in other Councils without the "local
A local Council, for another example, can decide how Eagle Scout
applications are going to be processed and who specifically in the local
Council can review and sign them. This is done in larger local Councils
whereby the Council Executive would literally be locked up in his office,
with his secretary handing him reams of papers for his or her's signature.
There would be very little time for him or her to go out and do those things
that he or she is supposed to be doing as the Council's lead professional.
However, when a local Council adds or takes away stated National
requirements for Eagle or other advancement; or changes the requirement for
directors of camping programs to attend National Camping School for their
positions because they don't want to spend the money; or decides that each
community can have one unit just for the minority youth and another for the
majority youth....those things cause the National Council (in the body of
the Council's Area Director and/or Regional Director and their staffs) to
come down onto that Council and possibly replace the lead professional or
convince the volunteers of that Council that he or she should be replaced.
In the past, before fax machines, the Internet and redialing phones, most if
not all Council communication between volunteers and the "Council Field
Office" was done by a monthly newsletter, Roundtable meetings and personal
contact between the professional and the volunteer unit leader.
With the advent of improved communication between all levels of the program,
a memorandum similar to the one we're honing in on can be distributed to
each local Council's Scout Executive within hours; that office can read,
review, see if it applies to them, and if neccessary distribute the
information almost immediately to those volunteers that it applies to. So,
what's the problem??
The problem, Mark, is that many Council Executives (and their volunteer
counterparts) feel that "it's OUR information, and WE decide who gets the
information...and we'll give it to them when WE'RE ready for it". That's
fair. It *is* their information, and as I wrote earlier, they have the
right to release or not to release it to whomever they like.
Only problem is, in another Council miles or even on the opposite coast,
there's another Council Executive that says, and rightfully so, "Hey!!! This
is something I support, and something that I want to put into the hands of
very volunteer in our Council. Make sure that everyone gets a copy, make
sure they understand it, and make sure that if they have any questions or
concerns about it, to call me or you and ask!"...and its done.
A couple of days (or hours) later, we read about it (perhaps here on
Scouts-L, but more than likely we get it to our addresses) and we know that
OUR Council has this new policy, and that this is how they want us to
implement it. We share it with our fellow leaders and with the parents,
everyone feels "a part of the program" and when someone else ask in this
forum "Has anyone else heard about this??", we get two or three responses
with "yeah, got the letter from our SE yesterday. It's right and here's
what he had to say about it."
Makes their SE and Council volunteers look MIGHTY GOOD, even though all they
did was make upteen copies of it, slapped some stamps on it and gave it to
There's not much we can do about it; many Councils are aware that many of
their volunteers get information about changes and policies faster than they
do in a lot of cases, and instead of stonewalling it, they freely provide
the information -- if anyone asks about it. Most cases, if nobody asks
about it, they throw it into the garbage can....true stuff, gang.
Especially stuff about upcoming training courses, Cub Day Camp and other
stuff being done by neighboring Councils...they make copies for the field
staff, which most if not all of them end up in the wastecan instead of being
shared. Pros get a LOT of stuff in their "in boxes" every single day, and
most of it they toss after looking at it.
One thing that has worked is why this list has continued to be a source of
information....we share new policies and their potential effect here on
Scouts-L (and they do the same with regard to specific program policies and
procedures on those other lists out there). In that way, everyone at least
gets a "head's up" that the policy MAY be changed, and it encourages us to
visit OUR local Council offices to see if indeed WE are changing our policy
or if OUR staffs have heard of this. This also does the added purpose of
"crosschecking", something I personally do about potential national policies
before I even "hint at it" here on this forum.
By having two or three others to basically "verifiying" that they've seen
the letter, publication, or new procedure being talked about, I have a lot
more confidence in even saying here that "this is something which is
coming;.be looking for it and this is the possible effect it will have".
Mark, you know what you're talking about....everyone else here does too,
or a lot of us wouldn't be here to find out about it otherwise!!
(c) 1997 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") (502) 827-9201
(settummanque, the blackeagle) http://dynasty.net/users/blkeagle
241 Fairview Dr., Henderson, KY 42420-4339 firstname.lastname@example.org
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