scouts-l Mail Archive for May of 2000: Re: Ghost Units [Long] Part 3
Anthony Mako (ajmako@NLS.NET
Wed May 24 2000 - 23:57:29 CDT
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 ... 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 common sense.
This is a function of district priorities and unit leader training. Keeping
failed units on the books is the most common number padding tactic.
Basically, the district staff is in a constant state of triage - evaluating
the units in their district and determining which ones need life support,
which ones can wait for treatment, and which one's need the emergency room.
Add to this the constant effort to create new units and recruite new members
and you end up with a situation where it may be all the district can do to
The overwhelming focus of the district is to maintain the overall health of
its membership. Accepting a decrease in one unit's membership for an
increase in another, or an increase in the number of units. As I've
explained, the idea is to increase the opportunities to serve youth in the
area. Units are maintained in areas where the demographics have changed
because the demographics will eventually change back and having the unit
already there to serve those youth is preferable to creating a unit once the
demographics can support it. Maintaining the unit allows for a relatively
smooth transfer of leadership and a stable membership. Overall, maintaining
an existing unit causes much less stress in resources than creating a new
unit. This is not to say that these units aren't maintained to pad the
numbers, or that some of these units aren't mere phantoms - just that
there's a logical reason for doing it (although maintaining the unit with
phantom Scouts and leaders is counter productive).
<Wayne and Steve wrote>
> How do we change this mentality?
I'm not sure either.
</Wayne and Steve>
There is an aspect of this discussion that has been missing. Volunteers at
every level have very specific jobs to do, and many of the problems
described in this thread could be solved or averted if the focus of their
efforts remained on the job at hand. Unfortunately, council or district
success is often equated to the numbers used to evaluate the professionals.
When we concentrate on the numbers without looking at the circumstances
behind the numbers, our focus moves from our job to the professional's job.
Concentrating on the numbers exclusively forces us to concentrate on what
the professionals are doing rather than what the units are doing. It's what
happens when unit commissioners concern themselves with increasing the
number of units instead of maintaining the health of the units.
Unfortunately, it takes a great deal of effort to change the mentality of
such a large group of people. In most cases, they don't see a problem in the
way they do things because that's the way it's always been done, and it's
always worked. You can, however, start by making the change yourself.
Concentrate on your responsibilities and make a concerted effort to maintain
the focus on what's important. When dealing with others whose focus is off,
try to refocus their efforts or convince them to change it themselves.
When it comes to efforts to pad the numbers or "recharter now, fix later",
the best thing unit Scouters can do is insist on doing things the right
way - take the hit on the numbers and make up for it when the time is right.
District Scouters can insist on reporting valid numbers - something known as
integrity. In short, if everyone does his job according to the same
principles we teach our Scouts, we wouldn't be discussing "ghost units" and
"phantom members." What concerns me most is what this says about an
organization that prides itself on building character.
AJ Mako, Scoutmaster email@example.com
Great Trail Council