Re: Upside Bobcats & National Policy
settummanque, or blackeagle (blkeagle@DYNASTY.NET)
Wed, 17 Sep 1997 12:50:03 -0500
Sorry...my mom called again (we're trying to get a car "signed back over" to
my baby brother); I didn't get a chance to finish my response to Richard.
Richard Fletcher concluded:
>It's not that scouters are dishonest--it's that many of us tend to
>interpret the rules rather than following them to the letter. It would
>be beneficial to long-time Scouters to receive an annual update from
>National regarding program and policy changes.
You *do get* an "annual update" from National through your local Council,
Richard, but let me please respond to the first part of your paragraph.
A lot of times, we don't have ANY guidance at all other than what I would
call "Common Scouters' Sense"...that is, doing the best things for the
youth, in the best interest of Scouting, and without causing harm to the
program or yourself and your family. So, yeah, we do interpret many of the
"rules" we are *told* and which are not "written down somewhere" in some
book or manual. Even then, some of us don't follow those things, either
(which gets my fellow Scouter Kathie Cereveny *really mad*; she like me, is
a "stickler" for what "the books say"...I'm a little more flexible than she
is, but she's RIGHT ON THE MONEY....if the BSA's materials and national
guidance says "Scouters cannot" or "Scouters may not" or "A Scout can not",
then there's no "fudge factor" involved...you don't, he doesn't, she
doesn't, they don't.
However, that's NOT the way that the vast majority of the BSA's materials
and books and guidances are written. They are written so that EACH AND
EVERY LOCAL COUNCIL EXECUTIVE -- where the "bucks stop" -- can interpret and
decide how "TOUGH" or "LOOSE" he or she is going to apply that policy to
*their Council's operation*.
And it SHOULD be that way, Richard. We had a discussion a while back and
there was a Scouter from Alaska here, Rhett. Rhett and I both on-list and
off-list went around and around and around with that topic...and we were
BOTH RIGHT. He was applying and telling us what HIS Council was doing, and
the desires of HIS Council's Scout Executive. While I was saying "he's not
doing it the way the BSA says it's to be done", at the same time I was
saying, "but if HE wants to do things *that way*, he's YOUR COUNCIL EXECUTIVE.
We volunteers place a lot of trust into the hands of those 323 men and women
that manages our Councils on a day-to-day basis. We hope that they will
apply the BSA's policies AND OUR COLLECTIVE DESIRES in the best way possible
to make the program work and grow "in our neck of the woods". But it's not
always so. Some CEs see their role as "a management stepping stone" toward
that NEXT plateau, that of being on the National staff , an Area Director or
a member of a Regional staff.
They can't do that if "they don't push the envelope" a bit. Being "ho-hum"
don't get you promoted with the BSA....you've got to be innovative, you've
got to be challenging...you've got to "strike out and make your Council
known" as Ben Love did in his rise to the Chief Scout Executive's suite in
Even if that means that sometimes your volunteers don't get the word at the
risk of "losing control over your volunteers".
I keep coming back to your Council Executive, Richard, and I shouldn't be.
I should be coming back to those senior-level volunteers at the Council and
District levels that SHOULD BE getting this and other information from their
professional counterparts...and SHOULD BE DEMANDING that they share whatever
they get program-wise from National, your Region, and any neighboring local
Councils with them....so that they can turn around and share it with YOU and
other unit-level Scouters.
This is where the "communications problem" gets bottled up; when folks want
to "hold on to the maximum amount of information to make themselves *feel*
important or "retainable". I've seen it as a District Commissioner whereby
I've had Unit Commissioners "hold onto" Camporee materials until almost the
last possible date because "Well, they've never attended a Camporee
before...they won't be going to this one, so I'd save the postage". Or as
a Council Exploring Chair, whereby District Executives would tell me "I
don't have any Exploring units, so I just trash the Exploring stuff I get"
and then two months later, call me to have me provide them with a copy "of
something a while back...I must have thrown it away because I didn't think
I'd need it".
Some Councils don't WANT TO BE BOTHERED with programs that they are not
staffed for or those in which the CE doesn't want to "activily promote".
Take for example, the National Exploring Conference. If a Council decides
to send a contingent to this biannual conference which elects a slate of
national Exploring officers including the National Explorer President and
Vice President, they would have to appoint a staff member and a volunteer to
"take on the task". Some Councils only have three staff members, and it may
be too much of an additional duty for either of those three to handle in the
middle of so many other IMPORATANT tasks that they do already.
So when an Explorer calls up and wants more information about it, they are
told "We don't know anything about it." and hope that their hiding under
their desks will keep that young person -- or his or her parents -- from
calling National, requesting the flyers, and finding out again (from his
Council) how to go to this "kewl conference".
The same happens when some Scouters want to attend training courses, or
attend Wood Badge, or participate in a Philmont conference. Only the more
progressive Councils, the ones in which the Council Executive has caught on
that "either you do your best to answer their questions now, or answer them
from BOTH the volunteer and National when they "find out"", will they at
least try to find the information out for you....
So, what have I said in two postings, Richard??
* Policies are determined by National, announced through your local Council,
and depending on your Council, may be more or less than what National has
* Lots of stuff that we talk about here on Scouts-L and on other forums have
come from Scouters that have somehow got copies of the information shared
from National to local Council and are sharing it with you because someone
has taken the time to share it with them
* The BEST SOURCE for finding out any information about the way YOUR COUNCIL
is "doing things" is from YOUR COUNCIL SCOUT EXECUTIVE. I think this was
also expressed on the WELCOME letter as well. While some of us get
information and are willing to share it, *your Council* may NOT be using
that program, may NOT be "pushing for participation" in a particular
program, or may NOT be "staffed" to provide those services that you're
asking for. In those cases, your next best source to find out about the
information is the BSA's National Office...that's why we have them there
for....and of course, "using your resources" by asking here or in other
approprivate forums for assistance and help.
Every local Council is required to have a Program Kickoff meeting. Many
Councils use that meeting to announce new policy changes, new programs and
new professional and volunteer leadership to manage and run those programs
and policies. Lots of Councils do these "Kickoffs" on a District or
Division level, and in addition to passing out materials and calendars, also
allow you as a volunteer to ask specific questions of your Council Scout
Executive and his or her staff. That's when your "annual program
announcements" are made -- more specifically, that's where you find out how
YOUR MAN or WOMAN is going to handle concerns and questions concerning
policy, procedure or programming.
Sorry for the lenght of these two postings......Again, I've posted both
postings along with additional information at the following URL:
(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 email@example.com
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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