A bold new beginning for a Michigan council at the Crossroads

When the going gets tough, Scouts get going.

Just look at what’s happening in Michigan. The place has experienced some of the toughest economic times in America and it also boasts some of the toughest volunteers and professionals in the Boy Scouts of America.

They’ve refused to let Scouting fail in the Great Lakes State, and they’re teaching Scouts and Scouters everywhere a thing or two about courage under fire.

On Tuesday, the Michigan Crossroads Council received its official BSA charter — effectively merging nine councils into one. It’s the culmination of an 18-month, volunteer-driven effort that Scouting magazine first told you about in our March-April 2012 issue.

But they’re not crossing the finish line. 

“We’re actually at the starting line,” says Brian Nastase, Michigan Crossroads Council’s chief operating officer.

“This is completely exciting,” he continues, “and it’s exciting for the kids that are not in Scouting right now because they have a much better chance of being recruited in Scouting.”

Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca spoke about changing the business model of the BSA to grow Scouting and the bold steps that volunteers in Michigan took to do so.

It couldn’t come soon enough. In Area 2, which includes all of Michigan, Cub Scout and Boy Scout numbers declined by 20 percent from 2005 to 2009. The number of volunteers fell by 9 percent, and council camps lost $3 million.

“We really were at a crossroads,” Nastase says. “If we continued down the path that we were on, we were sure to fail in our objective.”

Volunteers in Michigan weren’t going to let that happen. They created 50 different ideas for how Scouting could be reorganized in the area, and whittled those down to the Crossroads Recommendation that eventually became the Michigan Crossroads Council.

On Tuesday, for the first time since World War II, the Boy Scouts of America issued a new charter for a council. (Councils have merged in that time, but they aren’t issued new charters.)

John Reesor, a 37-year Scouting professional and Scout Executive at the new council, chatted with me about this critical time for Scouting’s future.

“The Boy Scouts are an integral part of the fabric of this community and needed to teach character, values, and leadership,” he says. “That’s important all over this country. But in Michigan, where there’s been such a dynamic economic downturn, it takes a lot more to launch this type of initiative and get it going.”

That means restructuring from the ground up with all eyes on the Main Thing: “to serve more kids and serve them better with exceptional programs,” as Reesor puts it.

That doesn’t happen, Reesor points out, by standing still.

“We’re not going to keep our place as America’s pre-eminent youth-serving organization if we don’t adjust to the current culture. How that happens is by changing the service model — not the program,” he says. “Kids love what we do — once they join. But if we’re not seen as an attractive, exciting program then we’re going to have trouble.

“The Michigan Crossroads Council is all about serving our volunteers, youth members, and families in an organization that is driven to increase membership by providing exceptional programs.”

80 thoughts on “A bold new beginning for a Michigan council at the Crossroads

  1. I hope this works! Was the change really volunteer driven? From some of the comments I’ve seen on SCOUTS-L, it really wasn’t. So, was the change really volunteer driven or is this merely “spin” by the National Council?

    • Calvin, I appreciate your hope. Unit level volunteers here are staying close to home and looking out for the boys in their units while the Council, Service Council, and what ever they are refering to districts as are kicking up dust. One thing the volunteers were told is the unit serving positions would be filled first.
      Well, all the old Council Executivies are being seated, and the unit serving professionals are looking for money to keep their jobs. It is not volunteer driven, and I don’t think National has more than a “stand back and see if they make it” investment at this time. They certainly don’t want their hands dirty while the clean up is in progress.

      • I would like to see what National says following a meeting with the volunteers here in Michigan…but I doubt that they would be willing to hear us out.
        It would have been better to let the volunteers try to “fix” the Councils/Districts before stuffing this mess down our throat…
        Just my opinion…

        • This plan barely passed in Blue Water Council (Port Huron) It passed by two votes, and they conveniently informed the youth representative (Lodge Chief/OA) that he didn’t actually have a vote at this meeting. Up until then everyone told him that he did. Everyone who voted for it received a position, everyone who voted against it is being forced out. Lawyers and financial analysts said it would ruin the program in our area, because our council was functioning fine. Overall though, I don’t believe it is going to work. They have this messed up idea that they are going to walk into the high schools and middle schools and instantly kids are going to want to be Boy Scouts… it shouldn’t be about having more scouts, it should be about having a good program for those that want it.

      • Take a look at it this way: The Hiawatha Council voted to reject the plan, and their council’s charter was denied the following year. They are currently operating without a charter. What does that say about volunteer-driven?

      • Well accepted? Are you high on crack? Go ask the volunteers at the council level. Units aren’t noticing a huge change, and the council professionals all got promoted. Ask the volunteers who help put on events and deal with the professionals. You will get a very different story. And as var as volunteer driven, yeah right. If you want to call 50-60 year old men who are in the program for titles, positions, and as their own hobby volunteers then go for it. I call them want-to-be professionals who need to actually attend some events. BSA professionals came up with this idea, fed it to the volunteers, rejected those that disagreed, then lit the fuse.

      • Good Morning, Michelle
        I mean you NO disrespect by my statements here.
        I don’t know what level of Scouting you participate in [Unit, District, Council, etc.] but I have to disagree with the thought that it was well accepted. There are several volunteers at the District and Field Service level who feel that they have just had a great deal of responsibilities thrust on their shoulders to “lighten the load” on the District Executives.
        These volunteers are not accepting of these changes very well, and the few that I have found willing to talk have stated that they plan on stepping down within the next year, unless the Council begins to recognize and correct that their jobs have been expanded beyond that to which they signed-up. I know of at least 3 who are [now] using several tanks of gas each week, trying to do thier jobs. Considering the price of fuel, and the fact that the Council is not reimbursing them for their fuel, they are getting “burned-out” with the expense.
        If you’re talking about the volunteers at the Unit Level, I would have to say that Yes, many of them were behind it since they were fed a line of peaches and cream that everythiong was going to magically appear and the BSA would be praising us [Michigan] for our efforts.
        As I’ve said to MANY people, I DO hope that it works-out for the betterment of Scouting in our Area; because it’s coming at an awfully high price.
        I’m sticking with it, because Scouting is the best way we can teach our Youth what America is all about; something which cannot be left-up to the schools any longer.
        They are our future, and I would rather pay gthe price on the front side, than deal with the circumstances on the back-side.

        • “There are several volunteers at the District and Field Service level who feel that they have just had a great deal of responsibilities thrust on their shoulders to “lighten the load” on the District Executives.”

          I read this as ‘DEs don’t want to do their jobs’. I hope things end up working out for you guys up there.

        • Brian;
          “I read this as ‘DEs don’t want to do their jobs’.”
          I don’t mean that at all, the DEs have been working their tails off to give us the best program possible. It wasn’t their choice to give-up the responsibilities, but the new council needs to get the DEs into the field as soon as possible as one of their selling points to the new council was that the DEs would be spending more time sigth the units. Where the DEs used to be directly involved in the council-wide events, they are, for lack of a better term, reading updates on how the events are progressing. If they want to give input on something they can send an e-mail to whomever is the event chairman.
          So what the new council has actually done is taken away one of the more fun parts of the job which the DEs truly enjoyed.

        • In that case, it sounds like they’ve added a ton on responsibilities on the DEs and kept the number of DEs the same, and then took away some of the enjoyable DE responsibilities. The council should either hire more DEs or at the very least, pay for the volunteers’ gas.

        • Brian,
          NOW you’re getting the picture.
          I am waiting for the volunteers to start telling the Council “no.” I know of one volunteer who has brought several thousands of dollars for FoS and has put roughly 2,000 miles on his truck as he is covering all the Districts in our [former] Council, and he has obtained [nor has he asked for] $-0- to compensate for his efforts, while driving a truck which gets roughly 14mpg. He’s not going to complain to Council, because he enjoys doing the FoS…but he has already told them [the former Council DEs] he is limiting his activities to 25 miles from his home or his work.

    • We in Erie Shores Council (NW Ohio) voted NO!. There were thinly veiled threats and some less than thinly veiled threats. The long and short was 4 or 5 councils in Michigan were in deep financial trouble. We were all supposed to sign over our endowments and camps to a new board representing all the
      previous councils. They would make all decisions. Nothing revealed on camps, just trust them. There were supposed to be 75 new DEs and membership was projected to go up 40% because of the new DEs. As I said many of us saw this as a money and land grab and a loss of local control. For the sake of the Scouts and Scouters in Michigan I hope things aren’t as bad as we imagine.

      • Hi Gary,
        In a follow the money update, all the streamlining of administrative duties have required a 100% increase in rechartering fees. The idea that we will be able to do more with less, well, it looks like we can do the same with twice the amount.
        As of October we are combining districts, I distinctly recall the plan as presented for a vote being reducing the size of units/boys a professional will be serve.
        Our district just doubled in size, same professional with more responsibilities and-oh yea, we have a forced goal of 10% increase membership and 6 new units.
        Volunteers have little value above the unit level. Stay in your unit, keep it healthy, keep your head down.

  2. Great start to returning expenditure to the primary output of scouting;but, merging councils to reduce overheads is surely only the beginning. I wish that scouting was more affordable. How about coming up with a uniform that doesn’t cost over $100 (in total)? I would also love to see the premiere scout outings (National Jambo & Philmont) becoming more affordable. $1000+ is outrageous – We only spent about that for our family vacation this year.

    • Why are the DEs spending time with the units? Isn’t that the job of the Commissioners? And District Program, isn’t that the job of the District volunteer committee?

  3. While the final votes were taken by volunteers, this was in my opinion, professionally driven. What happened in this case was that nine geographically defined areas, each with camps and volunteers managing and providing leadership to units, were all lumped together at an attempt to stem the tide of “numbers.” After all, nine Councils with various levels of drops in membership and units look on paper a lot worse than one Council which has a slightly smaller drop in membership and units. There are six media markets in this new Council, including Detroit, one of the ten largest markets in the nation. So it wasn’t to capitolize on the media availability. No, this was nationally driven, volunteer relucantly agreed to, of little benefit to the unit leader nor his or her unit members, agreement.

    You notice that there is no plan to restore the nine Councils to their “pre-merger” (and this IS a merger, not a “brand new Council”) condition.

    Finally, Bryan’s blog entry stated that this is “the first new BSA Council since World War II”. That’s incorrect. Charters were granted for the first time in 1950, 52, and 1956 to several brand new Councils. Among those “brand new Councils” were the Transatlantic, Far East, Aloha, Midnight Sun, Southeast Alaska, and Panama Canal Zone Councils. If I’m not mistaken, the Councils in Pureto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were all brand new and organized in the 50s as well. And the BSA’s Direct Service Council was established in 1955, I believe. But ALL of those Councils were established long after World War II was over, which was in the 40s.

    A much better statement would have been “For the first time since the turn of this century, the BSA has granted a charter for a new Council” (noting as you correctly stated, when a local Council merges or consolidates operations with neighboring Councils, a new Council charter with a brand new Council number is not issued; rather, the existing Charter of one of the merged or consoldiated Councils is used and a new name is selected by youth and/or volunteers.)

    • Our scout exec had an article put in the local newspaper about how the plan was this and that and oh, so great for everyone. What no one saw were the numerous people on the board who said this might help the rest of the state, but our council isn’t in need of any help. Lo, and behold we merged and everyone who voted yes got a job/position. I myself spoke out against it and now I am barred from being a member in this area. They claim that I only want to start trouble in the future. They do have a plan for restoring it in case it doesn’t work though… the original 9 councils still exist. Want proof? The proof lies with the money. People gave endowments to each council under the conditions that the money remain in that area, the only way to effectively do that without risking lawsuits and hurting people’s feelings was to let the councils exist on paper. So they are still there, and I’m sure that it is their only back up plan.

  4. ASM wrote in part: “I wish that scouting was more affordable. How about coming up with a uniform that doesn’t cost over $100 (in total)?”

    I just spent the last of $43.22 (with tax) on my brand new (new to ME) adult Scout uniform yesterday. I bought the large shirt off eBay for $12, including postage to my dad’s home in Kentucky. I bought the size 40 slacks at Goodwill(tm) in Tullahoma for $15.00. I went to the Scout Shop(tm) in Nashville and bought a new Kente cloth neckerchief for $12 (could have purchased a cheaper one off eBay but I was going to a Court of Honor this weekend) and a CSP, World Crest and 100th Anniversary ring patches for $4.22

    Yes, Scouting’s a bit expensive but no more than any other hobby, interest group, or sports team. Actually, I think we’re a bit cheaper, thanks to all of those surplus uniform parts out there which we can purchase for next to nothing (okay, there’s a bit of a cost, but nothing compared to “brand new, out of the carton”). Most sporting groups want you to buy the complete outfit “out of the carton” and for a few months, you’ll get some usage out of it. A Scouting uniform, you should get a lot more out of it.

    “I would also love to see the premiere scout outings (National Jambo & Philmont) becoming more affordable. $1000+ is outrageous – We only spent about that for our family vacation this year.”

    I can argue with you about the relative value of that $1K trip to Philmont or the $3K (give or take a $K depending on where you are in relationship to next year’s Jamboree) but I can assure you that the money’s worth it. Has been worth it for the trips I’ve taken with Scouting.

    • Mike I understand your wanting to defend the cost of scouting from your point of view but ‘ASM’ is right. I have THREE boys in the program PLUS myself. It is a HUGE financial investment for us (a one income family), and we are extremely thrifty. We rarely have luck finding used uniforms near us and I hate ebay since they are supporters of Planned Parenthood. We paid over $1000 dollars on summer camp alone this year. That’s not counting the patches that were earned and needed purchasing post camp. My boys would love to do Jambo or Philmont but it just can’t happen for us. Yes we love scouting but we have watched so many good families walk away due to the financial investment. (And other reasons but that’s a whole other conversation!)

      • I’m always glad when units discuss costs when planning events. “That month’s event costs a lot so let’s make sure the next couple ones are pretty cheap.” Professionals in general seem to ignore the financial impact on families. I’ve seen D.E.s raise the price for an event to $10 per person and many of the activities costs more in addition to admission. With the council event I am heavily involved in, we had a long and heated debate about whether to change admission from $2 to $3. Keeping costs low gets more people to more events.

        • I Agree! Because it’s not just the cost of the event itself, it’s the ‘big’ picture of the event cost, travel, gear, etc. So sometimes even though I know $10 or $15 for an event is reasonable (especially if they’re feeding us) I have to look at it like this, okay @ $10 for each of us = $40, a tank of gas to get there = $50+, do we have all the ‘gear’ i.e., bug spray, sunblock, uniforms, good walking/hiking shoes, ponchos, sleeping bags, backpacks, etc (cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching) Now we’re up to almost a $200 weekend! Again, I openly admit we choose to scout, it works for us but financially it doesn’t work for all families and that makes me sad to know. Especially when we have to pass up on opportunities sometimes simply due to the costs of scouting.

  5. While on one hand mergers and cutbacks can make an organization fiscally efficient, they also put distance between the organization and customers — and prospective customers. And Scouts, prospective Scouts, and volunteers are our “customers.” What this means is that Scouting keeps losing its physical presence — camps, Scout offices, and professionals — in the communities it claims it wants to serve. This is perhaps another reason local United Ways won’t allocate money to councils any more – they can’t see anything happening because Scouting has become invisible! But the decline in Scouting just hasn’t been a numbers game tied to the economy and/or politics; it’s a cultural icon that always seems to be 20 years behind the times. After all: How many years did it take for councils to enter the computer age? How long did it take for Scouting to ban smoking on council properties? When did the BSA catalog finally quit featuring tents made out of canvas? And how many marketing surveys will it take before the BSA gets it that kids don’t like the geeky uniforms? I’m an Eagle Scout, Wood Badger, et al, which means I believe wholeheartedly in the program. But Scouting needs some fundamental, earth-shattering change. A volunteer friend has brashly suggested that the BSA choose an outsider as Chief Scout Executive to bring a fresh perspective and shake things up. I don’t see that happening, but something needs to give, or this organization is just going to be a fond memory.

    • Axel, I agree with most of what you’re stated; however, the BSA shouldn’t get the beat-down you’ve given it in some areas. Here’s where I disagree with you:

      You stated in part: “How many years did it take for councils to enter the computer age?”

      For some Councils,they were in the “computer age” long before the national organization was. For others, they are STILL not in the “computer age.” Yes, they have the required website and some email accounts are working. But they don’t the funding to do many of the things which larger Councils have been doing for some time. And yes, I agree with you that it’s taken the national folks some time to view the Internet — and all of it’s components — as potential partners instead of the constant “warning Will Robinson!” wailing we volunteers were told will “make Scouting not work and the people online don’t really know our program…”

      You also asked “How long did it take for Scouting to ban smoking on council properties?”

      I was at a Council property two weeks ago, and there were people smoking there. Yes, there’s a national policy (which, by the way, was instituted back in the 70s — an old policy) but each and every local Council has the authority to ‘go along with the flow’ or to say “we’re not following this…this is OUR Council.”

      (We see how well THAT worked out in Michigan’s case.) When the BSA wants to crack down on something, typically all of the local Councils will fall in line; but it’s NOT a “slam dunk” because last I heard, local Councils are still led by VOLUNTEERS, not by professionals. And volunteers, like you and me, do disagree on things — including smoking. Fact of life.

      You also asked “When did the BSA catalog finally quit featuring tents made out of canvas?” I LOVE my canvas tent. I haven’t put it up in some time — I need to — but I love the toughness of the canvas as opposed to the light weight feel and storage capabilities of the smaller tent I own as well. The BSA’s move from canvas to nylon and other materials is more of a weight and storage consideration than anything else…As Troops started really doing what we like Troops to do…more outdoor living and more extended-day camps — the BSA simply reacted to that by providing things which those Troops can use. Didn’t help, because most Troops simply be-bopped down to REI or Dick’s or Gander Mountain and bought better-made tentage at a lower pricepoint than the BSA could provide. I’d always said that if the BSA wanted to make a really big statement about their gear, that they should sell it through places like Gander Mountain or REI. And as people bypassed the “official gear of the BSA” and went to other pieces, it would really give the BSA the feedback it needs to “step up their outdoor game”. Selling it at Philmont or through the Scout Shops(tm) don’t really help — try selling it to TRUE outdoorspeople and see if THEY agree that it’s durable, workable and of good value!

      Bringing in an outsider to be our CSE is a non-starter in my book, Axel. I want to know that my national officers all have been volunteers in the movement they are managing. Our current CSE, our National Commissioner, and our National President all have served as unit-level volunteers long before they made it to the positions they are holding. That, I can trust. I can’t say that with certainty about our National Executive Board members, but I hope that many of them have served as a Den Leader Coach or Unit Commissioner, or Assistant Scoutmaster as part of their “vetting” to become members of our national board of directors. Some may say “that’s dumb”. Fine. Think that way. But I would rather be in a bus with someone who has actually driven a bus than with someone who knows how a bus is supposed to be driven.

      • Mike: Thanks for your thoughtful, considered response. My friend’s suggestion about hiring an outsider has merit. Ford Motor Co. hired Alan Mulaly as its CEO, and Mulaly, whose background was in aviation (Boeing) guided the carmaker through the Great Recession – and with no government help. Now, thanks to him, Ford sales are flourishing again. A new face can size up an organization with a fresh pair of eyes and then act by taking calculated risks. Current management could go a different way by hiring a consultant to get the same advice. But it’s too easy for entrenched managers to reject sage advice and then blame the consultant for coming up with good ideas it doesn’t like or finds too risky. As for smoking, the issue was a no-brainer that the BSA could have quickly and easily jumped on — particularly since it wasn’t going to cost anything and would underscore the Oath’s promise for Scouts and Scouters to be “physically fit.” I laud the BSA for instituting height and weight requirements at national bases and events, but fitness needs to be a priority in councils and troops as well. American society has always been a paradox as far as fitness: We want young people to be physically fit, yet it’s OK for adults (including me) to pack on the pounds. (While the BSA probably needs height and weight rules, which can be perceived as a negative, a positive motivator would be a physical fitness square knot.) It wouldn’t hurt to see adults do a little stretching or walking around the Scout office a couple of times before sitting down for a 90-minute meeting. As for tents, anyone – you included – is welcome to camp in canvas tents. Perhaps there’s some romanticism about camping inside a thick wall of thread. However, as a Scout in the 1960s I didn’t like them because they had no floors, screen netting, or rain flies. They were misery in bright colors, plus they were terribly heavy. I’m about to buy a three-pound tent that I’ll use for backpacking. I can’t wait to try it out!

        • Good Afternoon, Axel
          I would venture to guess that if a policy was instituted for height and weight that you’d lose at least half of your leaders and a great many new Scouts.
          I for one, know that I could never pass an endurance test; when I was younger it would not have been an issue. But now that I’m in my 40s [ish] my body has taken to failing me immensely.
          My body has decided that it doesn’t like my naturally-produced insulin, so I am on a pump with enough insulin to put a horse down. {grin}
          I have also fallen victim to arthritis in 80% of my back, both knees, both ankles, both elbows, and both hands.
          I do still manage to hold-down my 50+ hour a week job, but I am all in by the time the end of the week comes around, and I still commit several hours a week to volunteer organizations.
          Not to mention that I’m taking care of my Cancer stage 4 wife for roughly 3 hours a day, her mom stays with her while I’m at work so I can keep the insurance going.
          Apart from that, I’m in pretty good shape. LOL
          BTW~ I didn’t tell you about my situation so you would think I’m some kind of Superman…far from it. My point is that there are many people, at least in my Council, who are not the picture of fitness, as well as several having some pretty serious “disabilities” [standard terms, they are actually rock-stars in my eyes.]
          I believe that the weight requirements at Bases is to ensure the SAR crew can pull you out if you have a serious injury…at least that’s what I was told, which makes complete sense.
          However, when I left the military, I was at 280 pounds; but I only had a 6% body fat…I was one of those “brick-outhouse” kinda guys. My chest is a 58 and my waist is only a 40.
          With that said, I still would not be allowed at those Bases as, according to the standards, I was overweight.
          I certainly do believe that the SAR Teams should be able to drag an injured person out if they get hurt, but I am saddened that I will never be allowed to go to these bases.

        • “I laud the BSA for instituting height and weight requirements at national bases and events, but fitness needs to be a priority in councils and troops as well.”

          The BSA height-weight requirements are horrendously flawed because they don’t measure fitness. If you have a lot of muscle mass and little fat mass on a smaller frame, the height-weight chart will you at overweight. Fitness is more complicated than this simple metric.

          However, I would disagree about instituting some sort of hard rules on fitness to all Scouts (youth and adult). Scouting should teach Scouts about good fitness and encourage them to be fit, but it is up to the Scouts to choose to do so. The Fitness Knot you mentioned would be a good idea for this.

        • This is in response to Brian’s comment regarding BMI, “Fitness is more complicated than this simple metric.”

          Yes, it doesn’t really measure fitness. However, if a scout or scouter’s BMI is beyond the acceptable on the height-for-weight table (BMI more than about 32, if I recall) then it is likely he/she is clinically obese and thus at increased risk. A bodybuilder or anyone very muscular can have a high BMI, but that’s not who I tend to see with BMIs that high or (a lot) higher. As a screen (and that’s what the BSA is using it for), the BMI is pretty good.

      • The Tooth of Time Traders at Philmont barely carries any BSA gear. What the BSA calls outdoors and backpacking gear is a joke and wouldn’t last a week on a trek.

        Scout Shops(tm) are also a joke. Since it’s the only place to buy your Scouting supplies (most parents are going to buy used gear on the internet), they can fill the shelves with overprices low quality crap in the hopes that parents don’t want to make a second or third trip out to outdoor stores. Councils are perfectly capable of running their own Scouting Trading Posts (not part of the national Scout Shop chain) that sell the uniforms and books, as well as quality outdoor gear.

    • Axel. as you stated, you are an EAGLE Scout. Those are the very core that will carry scouting into the future. You are the younger leaders that can more easily agree with and see from their perspective the youth of today. Please don’t give up the dream of keeping scouting alive. Push the dream and help .other leader

    • Anonymous:
      Thanks for telling your story. I have empathy for you as my wife died 15 years ago of cancer. It still hits a nerve today. I wasn’t referring specifically to people with disabilities — just people like me who are overweight. However, your body sounds like mine. I am 30 pounds overweight, yet I am still able to perform physically so I don’t feel the height and weight requirements affect my participation. Just this month, I joined a crew from my troop at Philmont on Trek 27, which was 86 miles. We also day-hiked up Mt. Baldy, and on another day were on the trail to another camp for 12 hours. I had no problems; I even avoided altitude sickness. So some overweight people can hike challenging activity. You didn’t say so, but I hope you are still involved in Scouting. You’re participation can still be rewarding. As I’ve oftensaid to a friend of mine, there is a job for everyone in Scouting.

      • Alex:
        Actually I am an active member with 2 Troops. ASM for 1 by choice and Committee Chair with the other [brand new Troop], I was asked to help out with this one from Council [I am not a Commissioner, just can’t stand when the youth can’t really get access to a Troop.
        The new Troop is in a relatively small town but is being “fed” from 4-ScoutReach programs, as well as having 2 “regular” Packs near the Charter Orgs clubhouse.
        I am also the Committee Chair to a “developing” Venture Crew, if tough to say that I’m active there as we’re still recruiting youth for the Crew.
        I also have my Aol and Earned my Eagle back in the ’80s.
        I didn’t think that you were targeting disabilities; I just thought it was worth-while to mention.
        When I had my SM/ASM Outdoor Training, we had 3 of 13 Leaders who were “disabled”, it’s just the way we are…we want to help however we can; I presume that’s pretty much true anywhere.
        My wife and I don’t have any kids [she has had “female” issues since we were married], but [like I said above] I don’t like when kids can’t become involved because they don’t have access.
        To be perfectly honest, I prefer the new Troop over the veteran Troop. It’s nice to take some youth who have -0- knowledge of Boy Scouting and show them the way a Troop runs according to the books.
        The veteran Troop has some very rigid pre-conseptions which include the SM pretty-much ruling the Troop through his SPL.
        But the SPL has been trained so he knows what is supposed to be done and allows the SM to run it…so there isn’t much I can do.
        It’s not like they’re doing anything illegal, I just don’t think the youth are really having the opportunity to Lead the way they should, but that’s just my opinion.
        The Unit Commissioner [for the new Unit] and I [along with 1 mother, Advancement Chair] have taken them on a few camping trips and they are starting to “get it.”
        We haven’t allowed an election just yet; we’ve been giving a different youth the ability to act as SPL on each weekend, so the youth can decide who the best candidate is to be the SPL and then the PLs.
        It’s actually working pretty well. I know who I’d like to see as the SPL because he’s very fare-handed with duties and responsibilities. However he is not the most “popular” of the youth.
        A few more months and we’ll have the elections and see what the youth think.
        In any event, I have no intention on leaving Scouting just because things are changing, but there have been some things which I was “expected” to go to, that I have not.

      • Completely side comment to Axel:
        When you’re describing your Philmont trek, the trek number isn’t actually that helpful. The treks change slightly every few years and the numbers may change as well. When I worked at Philmont, as a Ranger, I might be able to give you the first three camps for a given trek number, and Backcountry staff members only know the trek numbers that past through their camp and then only a few camps before and after their camp.

        Based on your other descriptions, I’d guess you either had a north->south Baldy and Tooth trek or a north loop into the Valle. Those are the most helpful descriptions of a trek for most people.

  6. BSA’s Council system is a fascinating example of self-organization to us economic geographers & other “map guys”. Out West our Council may be the entire state or more (Montana Council, Northern Lights Council). The idea of 9 councils in one state may seem like needless bureaucracy, or it may be that there are indeed 9 (or more) communities of interest in denser states back East. We do business with people we know, and its easier to get things done when we balance volunteer time with the cost of doing business.

  7. I agree with Axel that the BSA should have brought in an outsider to be CSE. There are many “outsiders” that are familiar with Scouting but haven’t gone through a career in the BSA professional climate. Since 1998, the BSA has seen a 20% decline in youth membership. In my opinion, the BSA would be a much stronger organization if we stopped the incestuous policy of hiring and promoting from within, even when it comes to selecting a new CSE. BTW, my candidate for CSE would have been Mike Rowe!

    • Not going to happen. BSA pros voluntarily limiting their advancement options? Yeah, right. Volunteers have to rise up (that includes the various boards) and tell the pros how BSA is to be run for any change to occur. Continuing to defer to the professionals will continue this incestuous approach and accelerate the decline of the BSA. I will be very surprised if BSA as we know it exists in 2021.

      • Yes, I know it probably won’t happen. My understanding is that Wayne Brock will be CSE through 2015. If he isn’t able to stop the membership decline, maybe the National level volunteers will finally “wake up” and take action. Anyway, I can dream can’t I?

  8. Pingback: New York OA Trader | Today’s Links August 18, 2012

  9. I live in Michigan and have read most of the proposals that were made and have looked at the final plan. Volunteers were heavily involved with the process and national has supported and maybe help kick off the proces, I can tell you that it has been volunteers leading the discussions with the professionals advising and providing the support for the project.

    For scouters in Michigan this is a huge change for us with a whole new way of doing bussiness. Yes, there have been kicks along the way and there are more to come. This is a huge improve with the whole state working together to make things happen. Living in the Detroit media market but outside of the three big counties that are considered Detroit we could not get media coverage without a fight and competing with another council we are now working together to share the message.

    Early next month their will be a new website up and running for scouting in Michigan where with one visit I can find what is going on in the whose state instead of visiting 9 different websites to find info about events.

    We now have professional staff that has the only responsibility of supporting units, they no longer are advising events, finding new units, or overseeing special projects. Their responsibility is to make sure that the units are successful. We have professionals out their finding new charters partners and seeing the program. Their are professionals that help the new units grow and become successful and can step in and help the struggling units get through the tough time. Then their are the professionals that will help support the programs and help make sure that they are awesome events the youth will remember.

    I will never forget when I had a program professional ask me a couple of weeks ago what else they can do to help the training I was planning succeed and be their to fulfill a last minute request. That is something that has not happens before in the previous councils I have been in.

    I ask that everyone stand with Michigan as we the volunteers tell national what we need to turn the program around and provide an experience to even more boys. Trust me when I say the volunteers are invested in the success of this project and give us 2 years to show everyone what thinking outside the box can bring the youth of the program.

    I hope their are follow up stories on the highlights and fumbled along the way and how thinking outside the box saved scouting in a state that so desperately needs thes program for the youth.

    • I’m glad that you have seen a difference on the plus side, the only thing I’ve seen is the “dismissing” of 2 “lower-level” workers which has caused problems because they both had information about computer programs no one thought to discuss or learn from them prior to their dismissal. Then they hired 1 girl who is practically right out of highschool and given her some title like Administrative Office Assistant. She is not very good on the phones…but she sure can mess-up an order of materials.
      As far as the website is concerned, I’ve been pushing for a “Michigan Unified Calendar” for a couple of years now. It sure would have helped when looking for a Summer Camp Program this year when a couple of the “regular summer camps” announced they would not be offering a program for this past summer.
      I REALLY am NOT trying to be disrespectful, but being in one of the mid-sized Councils, I really have seen nothing which indicates a plus for the old-council system.
      I did get a call a couple of weeks ago asking how many of our O/A members would be going to Lansing to pick-up bottles as a fundraiser for the new “Super-Lodge.” None from my “old” Lodge went. It would have been roughly 7 hours on the road, to collect bottles for 1 hour so a Lodge which has no intent of having a reasonable share of the proceeds going to the local Chapters.
      The Lodge is planning on giving $1.00 for each Chapter Member who is active. In most cases, that will barely buy the food for an Induction weekend.
      They will allow us to request more money and it will “most likely” be approved as long as they agree with the need.
      THAT is NOT the best way to foster “Cheerful Spirits” in the ranks. Not to mention that the request for funds will have to be submitted no less than 3-months from when you actually need the funds.
      WE work at our local Camp…when we need dollars, we don’t need them in 3 months, we need them right away…most likely because we are trying to get something fixed…Like the reefer in the kitchen, not much time between getting that fixed and throwing out food.
      These are just my initial observations…I DO hope that things get better..The back-out plan will send a HUGE rift through Scouting in Michigan…IF they have to impliment it.

  10. Good Morning, Folks
    I am a volunteer in Michigan with 2 Troops and a Venturing Post not to mention working several events at our local camp.
    Forgive me for not putting my name up here, but those who are not “falling in line” are also bringing problems down upon themselves…and I want to work with the youth more than give up my name.
    This was NOT a volunteer decision. FAR from it. A video was made to show the Charter Orgs which solely talked about the “good stuff” in very vague terms.
    Such as: “This project will expand the available resources to everyone in the Council.”
    There were -0- examples as to how the resources would be expanded.
    When they had “Roll-Out” discussions to answer questions, the only people who did the presentations were people who were completely on board with the idea; however, those who did the presentations most common answers to questions was “we don’t have that worked-out just yet”, Or “That will be up to the Transition Board.”
    Your everyday volunteer, has no idea what is actually going to happen. We did hear that “Basically nothing will happen at the Unit level.”
    The biggest problem, which HAS effected the unit level, is the merger of all the O/A Lodges / Chapters into one. The National bylaws calls for only one [1] Lodge per Council…there has been a huge amount of “friction” because each Lodge has particular ways of doing things.
    Now, all the Lodges money is going into one big pot. The Lodge-level is currently planning on giving each Chapter $1.00 per member……………………this pretty much takes-out the concept of donating to our local camps. IF the Chapter wants additional funds, they will have to petition the money from the Lodge, which makes obtaining funds a 3-month project now.
    Tghere are several other issues, which have led to some rather heated discussions, it does not make for a very reflective “Cheerful” group.
    One of the Lodges has an actual Trading Post building, which generates a pretty good amount of dollars…but no one knows what’s going to happen to that.
    Additionally, the Lodge meetings could [literally] be a 4-hour drive some some Lodge Mambers; which most of the youth have already said their parents are not going to be doing once a month.
    Another perfect example is that a Chapter whhich is by Lansing, does a fundraiser of picking-up bottles after Spartan games. Our former Lodge Adevisor received a message that noted we were expected to send a contingent to participate in this fundraiser.
    This event occured roughly 3 hours away from our Chapter. As you can guess, none of our members chose to participate. We simply cannot afford to drive 7 hours [round-trip] to pick-up bottles for a hour or so.
    I DO hope that everything gets worked-out, but I don’t see how this is going to work.
    As far as a contingency plan for getting out of this mess, there is one which does exist, it’s just that no one wants to talk about it as that would give the appearence of a negative outlook.
    Basically, every Council will be re-constituted and the percentage given to the “Super-Council” of their assets will be returned to them.
    My concern will be that the damage will already be done; I know 12 volunteers who have already dropped-out because of the way they have been talked to by others in a variety of the Field Service Councils.
    It would be nice iof the Professionals and the Volunteers started to understand that we are ALL volunteering for the youth, BUT we will not be poorly ttreated and tolerate the abuse.
    That’s all just my opinion…I could write a whole lot more, but I don’t want anyone to begin to realize who I am; I really do still want to continue my work with the Unit to which I have attached myself.

    • I’m from the lodge with the trading post. Everything listed here is true. The crossroads council is a disgrace.

      • Good Morning, Jack
        I feel your pain with the Lodge, I thank you for your concurence with my thoughts…I also believe that you and I know each other.
        Take Care, Have Faith and GOD Bless……

    • My biggest issue with these Super-Councils is the distance that it makes people travel. If you want to go to a specific council event, it may entail driving half-way across the state. And if it’s some sort of training that’s only offered in that one far off location, you have no choice if you want or need that training.

  11. Another Eagle’s view and Wants to Remain Anonymous

    I agree with the other anonymous comments. I too want to remain unnamed. When I did come out asking questions over two years ago about the process, I was quickly pulled aside and ask to leave a meeting. I was asking questions to explain the process and measurable outcomes we wanted. I was not confrontational or negative. I simply asked a question that the leaders did not want to answer. I was then asked to step dwon from a volunteer leadership role i nthe council. My council was one of the nine with positive numbers in every area from memership to money. The vote was not off all volunteers is was only of Memebers at Large and Charter Organization Representatives. So the vote does not represent the majority of adult volunteers. I keep working to support my local Troop but wodner where National and State leaders are hading.

  12. For a true volunteer driven change in the way that councils are organized, why not give units the option of choosing their council? Many troops could easily fall within the geography of two or three different councils. By making the system work more like the free market, units would get more from their councils and natural selection would weed out those who had their priorities in the wrong places. Its time that the volunteers within scouting called the shots, and got the support they want and need to serve their scouts, instead of the tail wagging the dog.

  13. ASM~ I’d love to see something like that, but we also have to consider the burden on Distrivt Executives as well as Commissioners.
    If a Troop in Lansing wanted to join-up with a Council like Tall Pines [100+ mile away], you’re going to add a whole lot of travel time to DEs or Comms. That is time they could be using to help-out other units or getting either ScoutReach / New units started.
    As much as I’d like to agree with you, I don’t think is practicle…I know that several people who have visited the camp in our Council have stated that they wish they could come here more often and have asked to receive “In-Council” rates.
    There’s just not alot which can be done for that, we have In-Council rates and Out-of-Council rates.

    • You make a good point about a need for ‘reasonable’ distances. Having said that, the only time we see anyone from our council or district is either when we go to see them (roundtable, etc.) or when it’s Friends of Scouting time again! Perhaps it would be a good idea to have a CSA (customer service agreement) that specify the type and frequency of contact with council and district staff?

  14. I am not sure how this is all going to pan out, but I do know that recruiting has to be very organized and intentional. We cannot expect youth to join Cub Scouts and move up through Boy Scouts and Venturing without serious effort. Our Crew currently has 27 youth and 14 adults with about 2/3 of those being very active. We use the local high schools to recruit. We are in the process of making a video to use for these schools morning announcements. We also meet at one of the schools rather than out charter org. Most importantly, our youth run the program just like they are expected to as Venturers. Sorry leaders, but ya gotta pound the pavement if you want to see numbers increase, and at least monthly outings.

    As for ASM’s comments on cost, I totally agree. We went to Wyoming (Grand Teton and Yellowstone) in 2009 for less than $400, all included. Last month we went to Kentucky and did wild caving, zip lines, rock climbing, hiking and swimming for about $300, all included. I do not see why 10 days on the trail at Philmont costs $740. The only cost should be food ($10 per day) and camp fees ($10 per day) and a generous cost for the guide and other programs ($100). All told, the cost for 10 days should be more like $350, and that’s if there are some amazing programs along the way.

  15. It’s interesting how some of these ‘controversial’ posts and discussions disappear from the blog’s main page.

    • Just the opposite, in fact. I have moved the post to the top of the blog’s homepage. It’s been in this “featured area” all week! -Bryan

      • Silly me. I thought the top six articles in the featured area were simply a quick link to the latest six articles. Although I do think they should still show up in the blog posts when you scroll down the blog. It also explains how it was the posts I’ve enjoyed commenting on are the ones that were missing.

        Also, you are pretty amazing at replying to things like this.

  16. Silly me. I thought the top six articles in the featured area were simply a quick link to the latest six articles. Although I do think they should still show up in the blog posts when you scroll down the blog. It also explains how it was the posts I’ve enjoyed commenting on are the ones that were missing.

  17. As I stated earlier, I hope this change results in more young people joining Scouting. I do find the “spin” and dishonesty very disturbing. If there is one organization which should be Trustworthy, it is the Boy Scouts of America. From the description as to how volunteers that didn’t support this have been treated, the way in which the National Council attempted to take over the Chicago Area Council comes to mind. Fortunately, the Chartered Organization Representatives and other voting members of the CAC Board stood their ground and prevented the takeover. We’ll have to wait a couple of years to see if the “Michigan Experiment” is a sucess for failure.

    • Good Afternoon, Brother Calvin
      I am still with you on this, I hope and PRAY that it works and that everyone starts to be treated accordingly again…and Hopefully it will start VERY soon.
      I can take this treatment for a good while still, but I am starting to see the youth [Senior Both Scouts] starting to notice things are not the same as they were; it is pretty much in the amount of answers we have been able to get from Council.
      Usually, when we were not joined, we could give them an answer a week after the question was posed…. We have one Scout who has been waiting for one answer about Jamboree for over three months. I knew he sent a question through our Field Service Council as the DE asked about the reason why he was sending it through council. The DE had no issues forwarding it on as it was well-written and concise.
      I had forgotten about him asking until I tsalked to him last weekend and he mentioned that he hadn’t gotten an answer back yet.
      This isn’t the first time, I’ve heard this from a couple of other Scouts…The youth are NOT dumb…they can tell when things as simple as basic communication changes.
      I just hope that things start moving and being acted upon start to have a quicker response gtime.

  18. Want to know how to solve the 20% delicate in youth problem? The answer is simple: change the public’s perception of the program. Stop teaching hate and discrimination by eliminating the absurd, antiquated exclusion policies. Once the public sees that we are an open and truly value-based program, the youth will return to the program. Until that happens, our membership will continue to decline.

    • Good Day, Aaron;
      I mean you no disrespect by this, but…Exactly what “hate and discrimimation” are you referring to?
      Are you referring to our belief that there is a Higher Power in the Universe from which our lives are given…something which many of us call GOD.
      Well…the government has taken GOD out of the schools and they are not improving, so I see no chance that it would be a good idea to remove GOD from Scouting. After all, A Scout is Reverant.
      If a Scout is an Athiest or Agnostic, all he/she has to do is say the Oath…since they don’t believe in GOD it wouldn’t be against their Religion….of course, then they are violating the Scout Law;
      If he/she will swear an oath to GOD when there is no believe in GOD, they would not only not be Reverant, but also not Trustworthy…as they lied to get into the Movement

      If you are referring to allowing openly gay Adult Volunteers, that would be becasue there is a best-selling book which tells us that homosexuality is against the Laws of God [Leviticus 18.22 , The Good News Bible.]
      In fact this same Bible states: “No man is to have sexual relations with another man; GOD hates that.”
      It goes on to state that: “No man nor woman is to have sexual relations with an animal; that perversion makes you tritually unclean.”
      Would you think that it OK for an adult volunteer to engage in sexual relations with a sheep…or a dog…or a horse, etc?

      I doubt that you would think that would be OKay.

      If you have “other” “absurd, antiquated exclusion policies” I would be more than happy to address those as well.

      My point strictly bneing that the BSA Movement has maintained CORE values for over 100 years, and they have paid-off in assisting the future generations have the kind of morals necessary to keep our Nation moving forward.

      • I think that’s exactly what Aaron is talking about.

        Most of the World Scouting Movement has no issue with atheists and agnostics – they’re interpretations of reverent do not bar Scouts for that. It is only the BSA that has this obsession with the Christian GOD (and generally only lip service given to other beliefs).

        The BSA has no problems with other parts of the Christian Bible rejecting an absurd number of foods (figs, really?) as well as the actual BSA Uniform. But the homosexuals are the ones that are going to have sexual relations with the youth and teach them to have sexual relations with animals.

        Aaron could also be referring to not allowing females into Scouting until Venturing, which is another idiosyncrasy of the BSA compared to the world.

        My point strictly being that the BSA movement is perfectly capable of teaching core values without being restricted by the intolerance of the Christian GOD that is becoming more and more out of touch with modern day America.

        If a person has my respect, I will respect their practicing of whatever fanciful beliefs they have. Anyways, this discussion is quite off topic for the Crossroads Council. Feel free to respond, but I will be keeping my future comments related to the Michigan merger.

        • Brian,
          I understand your point of keeping on-topic.
          I was simply trying to respond witrh my thoughts to a question.
          I would only like to point-out that my note above is solely based on the religion which I am familiar with; which is why I started off denoting a “Higher Power.” I have only heard one person stressing the Christian God over any other Higher Power, and that was a youth who I corrected simply by reminding him that a Scout is Reverant….Not that a Scout obey the word of a Catholic God [which was his religion.]
          I would not speak poorly of the Catholic God no more than I would speak poorly of a Hindu God.
          OK, enough of that….I’ll get back on topic.

  19. It seems I am still correct. I’ve warning against mergers and consolidations since 1975. They have never been beneficial to local units, only to beancounters. It is clear that OA is suffering the repercussions in Michigan as it has for every Council merger. That is a program issue that is consistently ignored when mergers are discussed. It is never good when properties get dumped — it will likely happen. Just this week, eighteen years or so since my Council was merged, we are discussing the future of one of our camps (there were no issues at all financially or otherwise before our merger). Even the “national expert” called in to advise our current Executive Board stated that our merger was a mistake. When will the proponents of mergers seek a cure for their recto-cranial inversion?

    • “It is clear that OA is suffering the repercussions in Michigan as it has for every Council merger. That is a program issue that is consistently ignored when mergers are discussed.”

      The OA is simply an honor society that isn’t even open to most people in Scouting. While it certainly deserves a mention in merger discussions, it shouldn’t be a major point in my opinion.

      And I whole-heartedly agree that it is never good when properties get dumped. Councils need to rethink how they are using the property and come up with other ways that it can generate revenue throughout the year.

      • I strongly disagree that OA shouldn’t be a major consideration. During my 30+ years in Scouting, I’ve seen the OA do more for youth leadership opportunities and maybe even service to council camping properties than any other organization. Leaving the OA out of merger considerations is absolutely silly but this is what typically takes place.

  20. Membership is going to continue to decline as long as the birth rate continues to decline. Between 2000 and 2010, the birth rate for entire state of Michigan has dropped over 15%. It is close to 50% in both St. Clair and Sanilac Counties…

  21. I believe this reorganization will ensure that Scouting not only survives but thrives in Michigan. I feel the reorganization will become a model for other Councils and Areas.

    In my opinion, the Area has been replaced by a Coordinating Council. Up until now what has the Area been?

    This reorganization is unique in three ways.

    First, the reorganization is not simply a merger of Councils. I watched as Councils in the State of CT merged for years. I do not believe it worked in the long-term. When I lived in Upstate NY, I witnessed mergers of Councils and heard about the negative results of previous mergers. I do not know if these worked in the long-term, but do not believe they did in 1997 when I left NY.

    Second the reorganization is neither adding nor removing a layer of bureaucracy. The legacy Councils had two key responsibilities: 1) to ensure the districts were mentored so that the Scouting Program would thrive, and 2) to operate as a legal business entity. Unfortunately, while the former is more important for successful delivery of the Scouting Program, the latter had to take precedence. This reorganization has divided the two roles. The latter will be the responsibility of the Coordinating Council, the former the responsibility of the Field Service Councils.

    Third, the reorganization means that what was formerly the Area is now a well-organized Coordinating Council with the responsibility to ensure all Field Service Councils are successful.

    As an Eagle Scout, I pledged my sacred honor to do my best to make my training an example, my rank and my influence count strongly, for better Scouting. It is with this in mind, that I think all Scouters need to “roll up their sleeves to make this work”. I believe this is the best way to ensure that Districts operate according to National Guidelines and not be mini-Councils. In my opinion this must happen for Scouting to thrive.

    I suggest all naysayers examine the expanded version of the Scout Law (Excerpted from page 47-54, Boy Scout Handbook, 11th Edition,(#33105), copyright 1998 by BSA, ISBN 0-8395-3105-2)

    A Scout is Obedient: A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobeying them.

    It is not possible to be Loyal if one is not Obedient. A Scout is Loyal. A Scout is true to his family, friends, Scout leaders, school, and nation.

    The decision has been made by those with the authority to do so. Therefore the only option is to make it work.

    One cannot follow the first point of the Scout Law: A Scout is Trustworthy. A Scout tells the truth. He is honest, and he keeps his promises. People can depend on him. Those who wear the uniform and/or holds positions of leadership in the Legacy Councils/Districts; who vocally oppose the reorganization are, in my opinion violating the first point of the Scout Law.

    Rather, I suggest that we use the following 3 points of the Scout Law as inspiration.

    First, A Scout is Helpful. A Scout cares about other people. He willingly volunteers to help others. – We must all do embrace this.

    Second, and more important, A Scout is Brave. A Scout can face danger although he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him..- We need to be brave enough to ensure that the reorganization is successful. we need to help each other as we do this.

    Finally and most important. A Scout is Cheerful. A Scout looks for the bright side of life. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.- We are doing something great. There will be challenges. There will be turmoil. We will all be faced with unpleasant decisions as we move this reorganization forward. We need to support each other when this happens.

    I realize that sealing my Eagle Scout Oath with the same words as the signers of the Declaration of Independence, did not carry the same risk. However, building on the spirit of the phrase; I pledge to work hard to make this reorganization successful. I hope you will join me.

    Yours In Scouting
    Mark A. Palmer

    • “This reorganization has divided the two roles. The latter will be the responsibility of the Coordinating Council, the former the responsibility of the Field Service Councils.”

      Except they are not divided. Because money is involved, the two will always be entwined.

        • Mark,
          Foll the money stream from which resources flow, and tell me again about the division.
          Golden Rule: He who has the gold, makes the rules.

        • MICH Cub Trainer

          Proved my point. The Coordinating Council has the responsibility of operating business entity. The Field Service Councils have the responsibility of mentoring the Districts.

        • The local service offices are not legal entities; they provide service but all power (and $$$) resides in the new council (which covers lower Michigan).

          Gary Holewinski

        • Gary:

          That is what I have been saying. That is why the reorganization is unique. That is in my opinion why it must be supported. The legacy councils, as all but one council, in which I have served in were so busy doing everything necessary to operate as a legal business entity, that they could not mentor and support the districts. Ensuring each District is super successful is, in my opinion, the most important role of a Council.

          I had hoped that the Coordinating Council would be the first chartered Area in the country. However, that would require changing the National Council By-Laws, if not the Charter. I understand that doing so, at this point in time is not warranted.

          But think about the possibilities. We in the lower peninsula of MI; have turned an Area into a Coordinating Council. What was the Area before this?

          We have done what is necessary to ensure that what was formerly the Area can best mentor and support the Councils which in turn can then best mentor and support the Districts, so that the Districts can best support the Units.

          Yours In Scouting
          Mark A. Palmer

        • If you were at the meetings, as I was, you know there was a lack of honesty.

          This is a mess; I don’t know that it can work. The “council” has the purse strings BUT the local field Srevice councils have responsibility for results. That is a bad combination. By stringing out the board over the entire lower peninsula you have watered down their ability to do much. This is by, for and of the professionals. Other than words it has little to do with kids.

        • We started something new of course it looks like a mess, Think of our Country after declaring independence. We floundered, we tried the Articles of Confederation; which did not work. We developed the Constitution.

          Although, I was only at one meeting, I did not see dishonesty.

          11 Councils got together and talked. 9 of them decided that to join forces and try something new; making what was formerly an Area be a viable entity. For every challenge, I see at least 2 opportunities.

          Just because everything did not happen exactly on schedule, which I had warned at the meeting I attended; does not mean we should not support the reorg. Having overly ambitious goals and not achieving them exactly on time does not mean one is dishonest.

          We have no choice but to do everything we can to make the reorg work. Otherwise we are not being good examples to our Scouts. Let’s just roll up our sleeves and make it happen.

          Yours In Scouting
          Mark A. Palmer

    • “The decision has been made by those with the authority to do so. Therefore the only option is to make it work.”

      “Those who wear the uniform and/or holds positions of leadership in the Legacy Councils/Districts; who vocally oppose the reorganization are, in my opinion violating the first point of the Scout Law.”

      “If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobeying them.”

      Those first two quotations seem to be contradicting that last quotation. A Boy Scout is Obedient, not Blindly Obedient as you seem to interpret it in most of your analysis.

      A Boy Scout is Brave. He has the courage to tell his honest opinion on changes, even if others declare he is violating the Boy Scout Law by doing so.

      • I should have proofread my comment more carefully – as the following is not a sentence “One cannot follow the first point of the Scout Law”. I apologize.

        In hindsight. I should have said the following. It is nearly impossible to follow the first point of the Scout Law, without following the most if not all of the other points. A Scout is Trustworthy. A Scout tells the truth. He is honest, and he keeps his promises. People can depend on him. –One needs to be trustworthy in both their words and actions. Those who wear the uniform while holding positions of leadership in the Legacy Councils/Districts; and through their words and actions discourage others to support the reorganization are, in my opinion, violating the first point of the Scout Law.

        Thank you for bringing to my attention the need to revise the second paragraph you cited. I appreciate it. A Scout needs to be Brave by having the “the courage to tell his honest opinion on changes, even if others declare he is violating the Boy Scout Law by doing so.”

        I agree with you that a Scout is “Obedient, not Blindly Obedient”. However I see do not see where my analysis and associated comments suggests “Blind Obedience”.

        In my original post I included the following, A Scout is Obedient: A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobeying them. I should have added the following. Encouraging others to disobey the rules is the same as disobeying them yourself. Further as I said in my original post: It is not possible to be Loyal if one is not Obedient. A Scout is Loyal. A Scout is true to his family, friends, Scout leaders, school, and nation. Discouraging others to support this reorganization violates the second point of the Scout Law.

      • This reply should follow my reply time stamped, 9/8/2012 at 8:10PM.

        Please tell me why
        We should not work hard to make this reorganization successful, and encourage others to join us.
        We should not use the following 3 points of the Scout Law as inspiration: “A Scout is Helpful”, “A Scout is Brave”, and building on these ensure “A Scout is Cheerful”.
        We should not ensure that the decision made by those with the authority to do so; works.

        Yours In Scouting
        Mark A. Palmer

  22. Mark,
    While you are admiring the Forrest, take a look at the trees. While the ideal is attractive, the resources ($$$) have taken another step away from the units, districts and Field Service Councils.
    We have made our bed, now we will lie in it. We are, after all, Scouts and Scouters. How many will share your pillow?

    • $$$ are not the only resources we have. In fact, if that is all we have as resources; we might as well fold up and close. Scouter passion and Scout enthusiasm is more important than $$$. The reason I support the reorg, is because I am looking at the trees.

      How many District Committees operated under National Guidelines? This would mean that they were not mini-Councils; but had working meetings instead of reporting meetings. How many District Committees focused on more than Program? I think the reorg, gives us the opportunity to make the District Committees focus on Membership, Development, and Unit Service. Moving Program to the FSC Level is an idea worth trying.

      The challenge is that we as “Legacy Council/District” level Scouters need to help make this happen.

      I am not sure if I want everyone to share my pillow, but they are welcome in my tent or at my campsite; if they are willing to work to make this reorg successful.

      Yours In Scouting
      Mark A. Palmer

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