Re: Volunteer attitudes about Professional Scouters
Norman MacLeod (gaelwolf@MAGPAGE.COM)
Fri, 5 Dec 1997 12:45:58 -0500
In answer to Paul's questions about attitudes of volunteer Leaders toward
the professional corps of Scouting, I would have to say that it is highly
variable by country. In most Scout Associations, there is a VERY small
professional corps, who are primarily responsible for those points of
administration that cannot be taken care of by part-time volunteers. This
is not the case with others, such as the BSA.
The BSA provides its adult and youth members with a wide variety of
resources, perhaps more than are available to almost any other Scout
Association in the world, in some ways.
At this point, it may be worth noting that B-P was very wary of large
professional corps in Scouting Associations, feeling, I think, that Scouting
works best when delivered by people who are wholly dedicated to Scouting to
the extent that they will go out in any weather, do it for no pay, and enjoy
it in the process. Scouting, to him, was not meant as a means of personal
advancement, but as a service to mankind...with the best (most noble?) kind
of service being that which we offer without expectation of recompense.
Another point to consider is that, in most Scout Associations, the rules
governing Scouting (most often referred to as something along the lines of
"Policy, Organisation, and Rules) is made available to any adult member or
parent who wishes to look at or purchase a copy. The rules to play by in
the BSA are, I understand, much more difficult to come by, which can easily
lead to the rapid development of an "us in the trenches" vs "them what are
keeping the rules from us" mentality. Please note that this situation would
appear to come from a corporate policy, rather than anything at the local
council level. (Not too long ago I observed a BSA professional holding up a
red three-ring binder during a training session and telling the course
attendees that it told him how to accomplish any aspect of his job...perhaps
the Red Binder is the BSA version of the POR?)
There is, of course, the thought that, since we as members pay the salaries
of the professional corps, they are actually supposed to be working for us.
This works well as a concept in most Scout Associations. However, in those
where the "hired hands" are keeping the rules to play by "confidential", the
uneasy feeling that the workers have taken the corporation away from the
owners when they weren't looking can become an uneasy feeling that can,
again, become a point of division between volunteer and professional. It
matters not that the pro is a really wonderful, friendly person to some (or
even a friend...); what matters is that the volunteer feels as if he or she
is being treated by the corporation as being somehow subordinate to the
person whose salary the Scout Group is helping to pay.
Just about every single professional Scouter I have ever met has been doing
the best he or she knew how for the youth membership and the volunteers who
are doing their level best to provide a positive influence in the lives of
the young people they work with. There were a very few, though, who didn't
really seem to be taking the Scout Promise (Oath) and Law as something they,
too, were expected to live by. This was often at least partially the result
of "bean counters" having undue influence in bonuses and promotion
opportunities (the "you need to have x% membership growth per year in your
District, and you need to show an X% increase in donations over last year if
you ever hope to advance in your job" approach to management...).
I have also known volunteers who resented the pros "meddling", even though
the District or Council (or equivalent) were involved as a result of the
volunteer not providing a programme in accordance with the POR...
There are a few who become professional Scouters as a way to earn a salary.
Fortunately, these usually leave Scouting in a reasonably short time, though
they can do a lot of damage, even with a short tenure...
Just a few random thoughts...
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City