Re: Volunteer attitudes toward professionals
Ian N Ford FRSH (addvent@DIRCON.CO.UK)
Sat, 6 Dec 1997 09:29:49 +0000
On Fri, 5 Dec 1997, Charles R. Stone wrote:
> Norman MacLeod made an interesting reply to the "us v. them" question, but
I do beg to differ with him on one point. He said that in many countries,
there are very few Scout professionals, who rely heavily on dedicated
part-time volunteers to administer program. That sounded accurate. The part
I differ with is when he said, "however, the BSA is not one of these".
> Currently, there are over 4 million young people involved in BSA programs.
There are several hundred thousand adult leaders serving those young people.
To the best of my knowledge, there are only about 5,000 BSA professional
scouters. If my calculator works, that means
there are on average about 1,000 youth and 100 volunteers
for every professional.
> Norman, are you sure BSA doesn't qualify? :)
Again, just for information and without saying what is the " right " number,
The Scout Association UK has over 600,000 members and about two hundred
paid staff ... including office workers, groundsmen, cooks and cleaners.
If you look at the equivalent of " Scout Executives " there are NO
professionals at district or county level unless the district or county
raises the money to employ someone. There may be a paid administator,
camp site warden or an outreach worker developing Scouting in particular
communities, but they are not " policy makers " and there is no career
structure. They are not employed by Headquarters, and do not report to
anybody other than the County or District Executive Committee.
Headquarters has less than sixty people involved in any sort of " policy
formation " - mainly involved in programme development, relationships
with national organisations and government, and international liaison.
That includes the two lawyers in the Legal Department
Depending on how you define " field " staff, a figure of one to every
50,000 members might be about right.
I'm not sure if the BSA figure included just " executives " or their staff.
What we don't have in UK are paid staff at district and county levels
processing advancement reports, tour permits, membership applications etc.
As a Group Scout Leader my " advancement reporting " consisted of a form
to be completed once a year that said that my group had awarded a
certain number of each award, and a breakdown of membership by age and
As District secretary I collated these figures, added some information on
leader training and district leaders and passed it to county, where
another volunteer would collate ther district replies and pass then to HQ,
where presumably a clerk was paid to enter them onto the database.
In twenty five years as a British Leader I have had one visit from a
professional to my unit. This was exceptional ... most youth will never
see a professional apart from staff at a jamboree or large event. We were
doing a field trial of an experimental training program for Air Scouts,
and I invited the Field Commissioner ( in BSA terms that would be the
senior regional executive ) to visit. He had to obtain agreement from
the County and District Commissioners to visit one of " their " units,
because the " chain of command " is :
Section Leader -> Group Scout Leader -> District Commissioner -> County
Commissioner -> Committee of the Council.
There are no " membership drives " organised by professionals, and no
" Friends of Scouting " solications either. Professionals' salaries are
costed into the annual membership subscription, and depending on the
budgets set by the leaders in each district and county this may be between
$20 and $30 per member. This includes a substantial liability insurance
and a limited accident insurance.
That does not mean that " Headquarters " is not available ... to the
contrary, any leader, and youth member for that matter, can call or write
to Headquarters. However, the National Commissioners for each program
area are volunteers ; they have a paid support staff. Nearly twenty years
ago the rule was that Cub Scouts had to wear short trousers, and most of
the members disliked this. So we had our regular Sixers' Council ( a
meeting of the Sixers (denners) and Leaders ) and one of the boys wrote a
letter to the National Commissioner for Cub Scouts. A few weeks later we
had an acknowlegement. Two years later there was a change in " Policy,
Organisation and Rules " in response to pressure from units. That Sixer
was by now a Scout, but when the rules were changed I told the Cubs that
" our Sixers Council helped to change that "... a practical lesson in the
Perhaps we in the UK have too few paid support staff ... I know that all
the HQ departments are at full stretch and then some. I am not saying that
this is the right solution. There is cuirrently a consultation on how HQ
should be supporting counties, districts and groups, and one option will
involve an investment in more salaries staff " in the field ". But I
hope that it will help to flesh out the bare statistics.
Special Needs adviser, Greenwich District Scout Council, London UK
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City