Get With The Program?
Tue, 16 Jun 1998 18:31:57 -0400
I've got something for the group, that I think would benefit us all to
As many of you know, I have been circulating the membership history to
those interested, along with some concerns of mine for the future of
Scouting. I also sometimes add a DE survival manual for use with new
professionals, hoping to share with them my thirteen years of
experience. The response has ranged from complete agreement with me, to
"disgruntled ex-employee", and most everything in between.
I have not worked since 1994, but my "papers" have been active, and
Thanks to Jim Dalton, I just returned from a job interview in a class 53
(mid size) Council in the Southern Region. While technically, I am
still in the hunt for the position, I left with the distinct impression
that the offer would not be drifting my way.
There are several reasons for this, but ultimately it comes down to a
difference in philosophy between the way I operate, and the way this
Council chooses to operate. Based on experience and by shared
communication from others, I have to say that this is a change that I
will need to make in my style, or I am not going to fit well anywhere,
because most Council's are moving on this direction.
Long story short; This Council has implemented a policy of charging each
youth $10.00 every time they attend an event or the Council Camp.
Apparently the professionals have done so with the support of the
Council Board, although there is still some question in my mind about
where or how this policy came about. Incidentally, they are already
getting excellent support from the public and the United Way.
It seems this policy is meeting with strong resistance from the old line
volunteers, and we spent some time discussing the various pluses and
minuses of having veterans in the Scouting movement. We spoke in
generalities, as I have not met any volunteers in that Council, only
staff people. On the good side, there is a wealth of knowledge and
experience, and on the downside, some get so stuck in the old ways that
new ideas are always bad. I'm sure everybody can cite personal examples
of each case! I know I can!
At any rate, they are looking for a DE with experience who is willing
and able to "either educate them, or replace them". It's a pretty clear
"get with the program" message! I didn't smell any compromise coming.
When I read the #3 district report however, I started feeling rather
disturbed. The Cub saturation was a dismal 11%, something I am certain
I could raise to probably 30% or better over the course of 2-3 years.
That kind of Cub saturation rate was what caused the last DE to return
to college for a master's degree!
The Boy Scout program however, is at a very healthy 25% saturation
rate! What that tells a seasoned professional is that there has been
some excellent leadership in the past that has recruited quality people
to run quality programs. I had to be honest by telling them that I have
never significantly exceeded those figures, and considering the cubs
have such low saturation, I would have a handful just maintaining that
rate. (That said, my background is such that I can do it about as well
as anybody!) It was the first time I've ever come across a district
where the Boy Scout membership equaled the Cub Scout level, it's usually
You simply don't achieve a saturation rate like that without seasoned
leadership at the Troop level!
Hence my predicament, are these really people we want to retire? I
sense this is happening all over, is it good? A Necessary Evil? I kept
envisioning running my own father out of the program he love's so much!
I know many United Ways are clamoring for more user based fees to get
the agencies to pay their own way more, and these charges are a way to
make this happen, but is a confrontational approach appropriate? The
Assistant Scout Executive said that the new parents weren't objecting,
they expect to pay each time. And as anybody who has read the material
I put together knows, I believe that the strength of Scouting is when
the parents are the primary leaders.
Initially my feeling was "lets lynch the professionals"! Host a necktie
party and make them the guests of honor! (I didn't say that!) On the
long drive back however, I spent some time trying to view it from all
different sides, and I realized that I can't step outside myself enough
(without some real good drugs!) to get the perspective I need here. It
would be too easy to just blame them professionals for being greedy
little weasels that need run out o' town on the next rail! God help me,
I'm an old-timer too!
Save me the trip into drug abuse (just kidding!), and help me to see
this issue from different sides fairly. I'd like to think these
professional's motivations are as good as mine, I just need it explained
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City