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The Michigan Madness


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#1 Beavah

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 10:43 PM

Yah, hmmm.... So I confess I lost track of this effort in our region, so da link that got posted was new to me. Holy Smoke! That didn't take long. For those new hereabouts, 9 out of 11 councils in Central Region Area 2 (Michigan) voluntarily dissolved/merged into a new state-wide council called Michigan Crossroads. There was a big heavily promoted push for this, though as close as I could tell from readin' da proposal it was mostly fluff. Lots of promises without much of a real plan. Since then, they've created 4 "field service councils" (apparently sort of like big districts) which are subdivided into regular districts. I couldn't much figure out what da point was, other than a really elaborate way to sell camps. It's been about 10 months since da merger was voted on, and I guess they now have the camp plan that Eagle732 linked to in da other thread. Here it is again: http://www.bsaswmc.o...10 2012 (2).pdf By my count, they are closing 8 out of 12 Boy Scout camps, and 8 out of 13 Cub Scout camps, on top of three camps that were shuttered this past summer. They aren't doin' this gradually, they're actually dumping hundreds of troops that had reservations for next summer at camps that are shuttin' down. From da read of it, at least three seem to be settin' up for immediate sale by shutterin' completely. Why anybody would try to sell camp properties in this economic environment is hard to fathom, but I guess they need money for all da new executive positions they're creatin' to manage fewer lads. There's no doubt given da economic situation and population declines over that way that a bit of consolidation was in order, but this is just staggerin'. Anyone in Michigan have an inside story? Beavah
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#2 qwazse

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 06:28 AM

But Beav, There'll be lots of new paddle boards and ATV's!
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#3 packsaddle

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 07:19 AM

One of our guys who was REALLY gung ho just returned to MI about a year ago to be closer to family. I'll see if he knows anything. That does indeed seem extreme.
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#4 Eagle732

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 07:29 AM

It's all about the money. Merge councils, make new jobs, hire more professionals, raise the top level salaries. Scout camps are just a necessary evil that take money away from the profession's salaries. The sooner we can get boys away from camping the better off the professionals will be. It costs big bucks to run a camp, it costs nothing to run a Merit Badge Fair. Both accomplish the same end, boys earn badges and parents are happy. Meanwhile membership keeps falling and we wonder why.
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#5 Roadkill Patrol

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 08:28 AM

Luckily they could not sell our camp in Traverse City since it is owned by the Rotary and not the council. They did however not make it a boy scout summer camp next year, just a Cub camp. Grand Rapids, the other council we merged in to make our FSC, got both a Boy Scout summer camp and Cub camp. Then it made more sense when I saw the transitional board members and found our council had 1 member and Grand Rapids had 3. Once the merger was proposed, I thought that there would be a new Michigan Crossroads Council shoulder patch and everyone in the mitten would be wearing it. Now I hear that each Field Service Council is going to have their own. That's a bummer for us in the north now have to wear the name of the council to the south, which didn't change much after the merger. The other 3 FSC's created new names for their legacy councils, ours was the only one that kept most of their identity. They went from Gerald R. Ford Council to President Gerald R. Ford Field Service Council. Actually they got tired of writing so much so now they are calling it the President Ford Council and even dropped the Field Service from their documents. I think our FSC is the only one that kept the Scout Executive from one of the legacy councils and not hired an outsider that did not have an interest in any of the merging councils. I am done venting for now.
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#6 prof

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 09:39 AM

"By my count, they are closing 8 out of 12 Boy Scout camps, and 8 out of 13 Cub Scout camps, on top of three camps that were shuttered this past summer. They aren't doin' this gradually, they're actually dumping hundreds of troops that had reservations for next summer at camps that are shuttin' down." OUCH!!!! Any sense as to whether the remaining camps can accomodate these scouts? Will there be a mass exodus to neighboring states for camp this summer?
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#7 Basementdweller

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 09:42 AM

Wheres old tim at......This is the kinda nonsense that really makes us long time volunteers furious..... They get us and local business to donate are money to keep camps open. They snookered the councils to merge and now they are closing camps..... Last summer we had a large number of michigan troops at both the summer camps I attended...In all the years prior there were none. Now honestly does this news surprise anyone?????? It shouldn't. How long before every state has one giant camp with ATV's, a lake with a blob in it, water skiing, cope courses and zip lines?????
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#8 BadenP

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 11:35 AM

It is truly sickening to me the way the know-nothings at National have created this new bureaucracy that gets them some fast money from camp sales and provides less service and facilities to the membership as a whole. I think this is just a precursor to more troubling times ahead for scouting. All National seems to be doing is finding new ways to line their pockets with more MONEY while membership continues to shrink in members and units. It is time for a revolution to give control of the BSA back to the volunteers, where it belongs. If the BSA executives want to close anything else lets start with the National Office, all those executive positions from the CSE on down, viva la revolution!
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#9 ScoutNut

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 11:55 AM

The new GSUSA mega-councils are a mess, so I was leary of this idea from the get-go. I can, sort of, see the concept of consolidating the top jobs thus saving on salaries, and getting a broader fundraising base for everyone. Even consolidating camps is not a truly horrible idea if the ones left have great programs, enough space to accommodate all of the mega-council's youth, and are located where they can be reached within a reasonable time (1-1.5 hrs). However, when I saw that they were planning on having "Field Service Councils" with just as many top paid positions things got much fuzzier. Basically, what MI did was use this as an excuse to merge some councils, and centralize the fundraising. How financially independent are the new FSC's? Does the "overlord" council pay all of their bills, and expenses? How is it decided how fundraising money is spread around the state? And, since it was one of their biggest selling points when this was first proposed, my biggest question in all of this has always been, how - exactly - will all of this help the numbers of youth members to increase?
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#10 Eagle732

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 12:15 PM

Basement, my understanding is that they told troops scheduled to attend some of the closed camps in MARCH that they would not be opening. That left them scrambling for any opening.
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#11 Sentinel947

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 12:20 PM

And all the camp staffers (read College students and older people) who just lost their summer jobs.
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#12 NealOnWheels

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 12:32 PM

Wow, only four Boy Scout Summer Camps for the entire lower peninsula and none in the southern area. Our Council (from Indiana) operates a Summer Camp in the southern area. I imagine there will be a lot more units attending our camp next summer. I wonder what impact that will have on the quality of our program.
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#13 Basementdweller

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 12:43 PM

The camp were we traditionally go to was at capacity plus 60......that is what we were told...... They created two new campsites this year to accommodate the additional youth. I can image getting that phone call in march.... OH CRAP what are we gonna do now?????
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#14 Tokala

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 02:58 PM

My dealings with the Southern Region folks the last 3-4 years has shown a keen interest by them to coerce/convinve local Councils to sell property. The Region Director wanted us to sell Sand Hill in Brooksville Florida and then buy property in Polk County. This is farther away and would require reinvesting millions in infrastructure...again. The property he proposed we buy was about 5 miles away from Flaming Arrow. Apparently the Region has no concept of geography or economics.
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#15 UCEagle72

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 08:32 AM

@Roadkill -- two of the four did not change names ... Great Lakes is also still Great Lakes. And here in Southern Shores we have the SE from the legacy Southwest Michigan Council, not an outsider (in fact, I don't think there are any "outsiders" in the 4 SEs). Right now, the economy is such, that selling camps will not bring in as much money as it could. So I would not be surprised if camps are not sold. But let's think about this for a minute ... I am a Camp Visitor, I was at a nice camp that was barely at half-capacity, good program and all, but in a 25-mile radius was three other Scout Camps - one of which was full year-round. So, two of the four survived. Hate to say it, but it makes sense to me. Unfortunately, most of the loud noise you hear is from folks concerned about MYYYYYY camp. Close HISSS camp, or THEIRRRRR camp, stay away from MYYYYY camp. Sorry - it was time to look at ALLLLLL camps, and make a decision. When camps are not operating in such a way that they can sustain themselves, then why are we pouring money in? I hate to see camps close, heck, in my Council we don't even have a Scout summer camp! But I also understand the economic impact of that many camps with not enough campers. I guess living in Florida for the last 7 years probably changed my opinion of things. My Floridian Council had one camp - and it is well used -- not 4 or 5, struggling to survive. I just spend my time trying to get folks to see the "reality" of it all.
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#16 Beavah

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 10:38 AM

Unfortunately, most of the loud noise you hear is from folks concerned about MYYYYYY camp. Close HISSS camp, or THEIRRRRR camp, stay away from MYYYYY camp. Sorry - it was time to look at ALLLLLL camps, and make a decision. Yah, hmmmm... Now I'm a council fellow, and so I understand and sympathize with da "MY camp" thing. It requires some degree of bravery and kindness to make hard decisions and listen to passionate criticism. It isn't easy. But da Scout Law applies to us as much as those whom we serve, eh? We shouldn't expect it to be easy. Let's not forget that we have been tellin' folks for years that it was in fact THEIR camp when we solicited their money and their time, so it seems a bit unfair to turn around and complain about 'em actually believin' us. I reckon if you're hearin' lots of "loud noise" in less than a week it's probably because people are surprised, eh? And perhaps a little miffed that yeh closed camps where they had paid deposits and made reservations, and had set up their troop and family plans relyin' on those dates. That strikes me as more of a lack of planning, communication, and respect for folks by da council staff than of whining by volunteers. Perhaps that lack of communication is because da folks makin' and supportin' the decisions have been livin' half their time in Florida instead of Michigan for the past seven years, and have gotten a bit out of touch with da people who are still workin' with kids in the units. Just perhaps. ;) I suspect that there's no doubt in anyone's mind that some amount of consolidation in Michigan is necessary given da demographics. Closin' three quarters of da camps seems a bit extreme, though; I know your demographics haven't changed that much. I'm also not sure I buy da notion that camps can't be next to each other and do well. Your whole state is pretty geographically similar, eh? Like most of us in da upper midwest. So it's not like a camp that's 150 miles away has different resources because of geography, and none of da drives are more than 3 hours I bet. Camps tend to get sited near each other because that's where the land is cheaper and da taxes/other infrastructure less costly, so if yeh want 'em spread out you'll have higher costs. I expect yeh don't have a camp in da southern FSC for that reason, eh? So to my mind, da issue is more a question of how big a population the camp serves, not where it happens to sit. I've also been on visitation teams for camps. I think if yeh are closin' 75% of your camps because you have lost 30% of your membership, then quite a bit of da problem is mismanagement and poor customer service. Yeh haven't spent money re-investing in da camp; yeh haven't done your duty of oversight ensuring that da program was high-quality and your customers well satisfied. Probably yeh spent it on exec salaries instead of program, because that's always easier for a somewhat disengaged board. If yeh want your rank-and-file to be supportive, yeh have to own your own mistakes as a council volunteer first, and resolve to fix 'em, eh? Blaming da rank and file for havin' a selfish attitude is da wrong way to go. Beavah (This message has been edited by Beavah)
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#17 Twocubdad

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 03:45 PM

Yeah, Beav, that is, I think, one of BSA's greatest short comings. When they need money or folks for a work day, they're OUR camps right up until the day the sale is announced. Just like we are "stakeholders" during FOS season but "customers" when someone wants to make substantive program decisions. We're "members" when they need someone for some thankless district job but just part of the red-jacketed rabble when there's an opening on the executive board. Generally though, I see this from UCEagle's perspective. I don't know much about the camps in other parts of the country, but my understanding is in some areas there are just too many camps. Seems there was a report a year or two ago from the NE Region related to this which came with a long string of recommendations for minimum camp sizes, endowments, maintenance budgets, etc. Around here, most councils seem to have one big summer camp, often outside the council, and another, smaller camp which serves the Cubbies, training, and other functions where tacking a two-hour drive to the event would be a problem. That seems to work well. Through the council's history I think we've had two other camps, both which were sold to buy the two current camps. While I love the history and tradition of old camps, I can only imagine the financial burden if we still had the two old camps. Not to mention that without the capital from their sale, it's unlikely we would have the to great camps we do. It's kinda like family homes. You really hate to sell the little intown bungalow where you lived as a young couple, but the extra space, big back and better schools is what your family needs. Seems like a lot of councils are on the back end of that curve -- empty nesters who need to downsize, cut costs and eliminate maintenance. From working at National Camp School, I know a lot of folks on the regional camping committee. When you can cut them away from the heard, they'll tell you there are some councils which don't have any business running camps. The don't have the program staff or maintenance budgets. Consequently, they'll run two weeks of camp at 40% capacity and do a half-assed job of that. I'll grant you the solution there should be to kick some butts, not sell the camps, but after years and years of kicking, it may be time for a new strategy. And I'm not discounting the fact that some councils have been mismanaged and run into the ground financially and the sale of property is the quick or easy way out of the hole. (See paragraph 1, above.)
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#18 BadenP

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 12:55 AM

(This message has been edited by BadenP)
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#19 T2Eagle

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 08:36 AM

My first thought when I saw this announcement was to go thank our Council exec board for keeping us out of the madness in the face of some pretty intense pressure from above to join in. My second thought was how patronizing the announcement was. There's no real explanation or justification given for any of the changes; just a pat on the head and a cheery voiced "trust us" for what someone else described as the red-jacketed rabble. I'm willing to believe that some consolidation of camps was inevitable given all the challenges faced, but where is the information. Which of these camps was at 40%? Which of these camps had infrastructure deficiencies that simply couldn't be met? The lack of transparency in our organization confounds me, it reminds me of the worst aspects of when I worked for Fortune 500 behemoths. We in the rabble can actually handle full disclosure. We're used to making and understanding both difficult and complex decisions, and more importantly we are the cornerstone that makes the organization possible. We provide the volunteers, the money, and frankly even the youth being served. Scouts, scouters, and families have invested Time, Talent, and Treasure in these camps for years and even decades; they deserve a full explanation of why these decisions are being made. If an organization can't provide complete and honest information, including the unpleasant parts, about the decisions being made, then it's probably the decision that's the problem not the people it's being explained to.
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#20 Basementdweller

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 01:13 PM

You forget.......Volunteers are a renewable resource.....The piss us off we leave they sucker in the next crew who hang around for 10-15 years then they piss them off and they leave. I was taken advantage of by district level and blindly donated to council thru the united way and FOS. I encourage volunteers to stop doing this.....Keep your money at the unit level.
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