scouts-l Mail Archive for May of 2000: Re: Ghost Units/Scouts
Wayne Mery (vseerror@LEHIGH.EDU
Mon May 22 2000 - 08:30:57 CDT
Steve Hoar wrote:
> One of the realities of life is that folks will perform to the expectations
> that are placed upon them. They will do that which will get them
> rewarded. The pressure upon the DEs to generate headcounts and unit counts
> is tremendous. That it the primary standard by which they are
> measured. If the unit count goes down or if they fail to meet the goal of
> increasing the number of units/scouts it is a real career threatening
> situation. So what do we see; increased numbers of so called
> 'non-traditional' units. We see many more multiple registered scouts. We
> see scouts and units carried on the rolls long after they leave the
> program. Sometimes we witness DE paying registration fees out of their own
> pockets for fictitious scouts. The success of the DEs is not measured on
> advancement or unit program. The yardstick is numbers. Numbers advance
> careers. Numbers drive donations. The number of youth 'served' drives
> United Way allocations. The whole system is motivated by the number of
> units and number of registered scouts. And we are surprised that there are
> exaggerations as to the real numbers?
> And to a lesser degree the same holds true at the unit level. I see units
> with a large number of registered scouts. But when it comes to camporees,
> troop meetings, summer camps and other events the actual number
> participating seems strangely small. Many inactive scouts are carried on
> the rolls long after they have left the program and the neighborhood. Some
> for the same reasons that DE might inflate the numbers. Some inflate to
> satisfy their sponsor. Some small unit inflation is done is keep the unit
> 'alive' so that the adult leaders boys or a few other boys can complete
> their Eagle. (Hint: Watch small units that die after SM/ASM sons make
> Eagle). A lot of it has to do with bragging rights as to who has largest
> units. (Sometimes I would suspect that fishermen and scoutmasters are
> genetically linked.)
> It would be a rare district that does not suffer from this malady. It is a
> reflection of the American Corporate mentality. We life or die by the
> quarterly report. You grow or you die.
> How do we change this mentality?
> You tell me. But a good first step would be for Council to
> eliminate the head/unit count as the primary measurement of success.
> Steve Hoar
Some relevant points I hope:
1. Somehow, we the volunteers, through the national board and our
representatives to and at national drive this 'single minded' mentality
2. I suspect there is very little understanding at the grass roots
level as to how to effect change in areas such as this - I say this as a
3 year district chairman who is still learning the ropes, and knows next
to nothing about region or national, who our council representatives
are, etc. I may be wrong, but see this type of information as
'controlled information', which is disseminated by the council on a
need-to-know basis only. At the very least, understanding in this area
is not fostered.
3. There are in some areas, frankly, significant disconnect between
council executive board members and needs/wishes at the unit level.
4. What are the most significant factors that drive real, sustained
membership growth? Yes, new units in undeserved areas. But IMO more
important and significant is strong units, i.e. 1. unit leader Training,
2. program 3. COR/Chartered org training and relationship building -
all relatively low cost items (except perhaps the latter). In a word,
unit health. But, with the exception of perhaps training, these are all
items which are, to be gracious, de-emphasized by council.
I'm sure none of the above is any great revelation. Some would say its
a suits versus uniform issue. I don't believe that - it's much deeper
To get back to your comment "But a good first step would be for Council
to eliminate the head/unit count as the primary measurement of success."
- I certainly agree as to eliminating *unit count* as a primary
measurement. But I do not agree with eliminating head count as a primary
Head count is a significant measure of *overall* health of a region and
effectiveness of other areas such as training, program, etc. On the
other hand, I do not believe *growth* in unit count represents overall
Under the present system, there is a need to get new units - OK; but not
OK is significant incentive to keep failed units on the books at
significant and disproportionate cost in volunteer and DE manpower.
There are units on "life support" for various reasons, poor or burned
out leadership for say 2-5+ years (committee and program), disinterested
Charted org - I'm sure you can create a long list. We feed them boys
through membership drives and these units consistently loose them.
Also, we are often 'forced' to keep existing units in areas that are not
supported by the demographics - we obviously do not control
demographics. To keep many such units flies in the face of logic and
> How do we change this mentality?
I'm not sure either.
Wayne S. Mery (email@example.com -- for vse-l mailing list errors)
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