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Pinning down volunteers


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#1 Cambridgeskip

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 06:04 AM

There was a big scouting media frenzy this side of the pond yesterday. Essentially a big press release that made most national papers and TV channels about the need for more volunteers. Currently 50,000 kids on waiting list and the need for more adults to shift them.

 

What was interesting though was the reasoning on the numbers. The line from HQ is that while there is a record number of adult members each individual is only able to commit to a smaller amount of time than they would have historically. Hence while the 3:1 child to adult ratio looks like a lot adults it doesn't really tell the full story. Now on a personal anecdotal level this bears out. My troop of 35 scouts can call on 12 adults at full strength. Now if they were all there it would be far too many given that scouts should do as much as they can for themselves. However it's not the full story. Due to various personal, work, academic and family commitments it would be rare to see more than 5 on any given night or event. Indeed I don't think that all 12 have ever been in the same room at once and I think 2 of them have never even met!

 

However..... if you look "below the line" at the commentators on various website a different story seems to play out. Look at the Guardian and comments from its readers. Various thoughts given but the one that comes up most regularly is that of men scared of having the finger pointed at them either officially or via gossip for behaving inappropriately with children. Now the Guardian is an unashamedly left wing paper. Zip over to the other end of the spectrum at the Daily Mail (makes Fox News look like Socialists!) and you get a very similar pattern. So it doesn't seem to be a let wing v right wing issue.

 

So I'm not really sure which is the bigger issue, time or fear.

 

How do things tend to play out your side of the Atlantic? Are these the biggest issues? Which one seems worse? I'm curious!


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#2 RememberSchiff

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 06:49 AM

from the Daily Mail link

 

   Last year, Josie Appleton, director of The Manifesto Club think tank, which campaigns against excessive regulation, said endless forms and recent child abuse scandals were deterring adults from signing up as Scout helpers.

   Forms for the Disclosure and Barring Service, which replaced the Criminal Records Bureau in 2012, are a particular problem.

She said: ‘There is an incredible level of bureaucracy to do with child protection, and we’ve heard from parents who have been given DBS forms when their children are registering, before they’ve done anything.

  ‘Child protection is about common sense not about filling in forms.

  ‘It must put off people and I know of volunteers who have resigned over the degree of bureaucracy, particularly repeat checks.’ 

 

Same problem here. I have been unable to get anyone ( teacher, policeman, nurse, doctor, EMT, plumber, electrician,..) who has no kids in scouting to volunteer.  No one.

 

At most they initially agree but when they see the vetting process they either say

   1. I have already done that for my job or another youth activity why do I have to do it again or

   2. shrug and say I am offering to help but I will not jump through hoops (filling out forms, background checks).

 

And it is just not Scouting. I volunteered to be an Library Assistant at my son's school. I had multiple background checks for Scouting, Little League, firearms,... but the school district and state required a new one. Because of my age, archived microfiche records needed to be searched manually. Months later as the school year ended and my son graduated, my background check was finally approved. :(

 

 

 

 

 


 

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#3 Back Pack

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 07:04 AM

Curious, does the UK require two deep leadership?

I don't talk or otherwise interact with any youth without another adult I trust being present.
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#4 MattR

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 07:17 AM

Skip, the comment section at the bottom of any media website is a place for people to vent. I stay away from them like the plague.

 

I assume you have something like 2 deep leadership. It's possible people don't understand it. More likely is that it's an excuse. Sure there's a risk. Life is a risk. I also think the "I don't want to fill out paperwork" excuse is pure nonsense. I have a background check done for the BSA and also my CO. It takes all of 5 minutes to fill out the paperwork.

 

Not having time is certainly an issue here. My guess is that what you're seeing in your unit is more common than anything you're reading in the comment section. I could see how getting adults to volunteer where they don't have kids in the program is a challenge. We (the US) probably do that worse than you (UK).


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#5 ianwilkins

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 07:29 AM

Curious, does the UK require two deep leadership?

I don't talk or otherwise interact with any youth without another adult I trust being present.

 

No.

 

We are to follow the "yellow card", a safeguarding card that all UK leaders should be given, and discussed at training. It says, amongst other things...

 

"Do plan activities that involve more than one other person being present, or at least within sight and hearing of others.

Do follow the recommended adult-to-young people ratios for meetings and activities."

From:

http://members.scout...lts-yellow-card

 

So it's ok for you to be talking to two scouts, on your own, and outwith hearing/sight of other scouts or adults. Personally it would depend on the kids, but I'd probably want more than two in most cases.

Actually, I guess, being pedantic, it only states planned activities. So if you went hiking with three scouts, and one fell and broke their leg, you'd take a view on whether to stay with the injured and send the other two for help, or go with one for help, not go with both the others, or all wait there, because you didn't want to be 1-2-1 with a young person. Obviously, you might think as part of your risk assessment that 1 leader might be riskier so take two. But anyway, staying back to the topic in hand...

No, two deep leadership doesn't exist in the UK if I understand what you mean by two deep leadership.

To give two examples, one summer camp I had to have a quiet word with one explorer, so me and another leader took him to one side away from others and had a word. I had to comfort an upset explorer, so me and another leader sat and chatted to them. A couple of days ago, daytime, I was driving and spotted an explorer walking home from town, I was going that way, but I didn't give stop and give them a lift home.


Edited by ianwilkins, 12 April 2017 - 07:31 AM.

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#6 ianwilkins

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 07:32 AM

More likely is that it's an excuse.

 

 

This. 90% of the time. "I'd love to help but..."


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#7 qwazse

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 07:53 AM

@ianwilkins, what you've described is basically the BSA policy. We can go on about back-country depth charts. etc ..., but the general policy is the same.

 

@MattR, just because you don't value your 5 minutes, doesn't mean that you shouldn't disrespect someone who does! You could say the same thing each of the other 3 forms that Pennsylvanian's must complete. Well then that's 20 minutes. Plus, mandatory training.

 

State mandated paperwork for anyone serving with youth in any capacity has quadrupled in PA, and we've had a corresponding plummet of adult leaders from our rosters. Don't need comments on a blog to know that's a new reality.

 

The "time" excuse should usually be translated into "sorry, scouting is not a priority."

 

Folks get offended being called out that way, but I far prefer friends who will admit that, instead of scouting, they'd rather work that double shift to have a more expensive house or bigger vacation or cover the increased costs of fuel, etc ... or simply would rather occupy their time with another hobby.


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#8 fred johnson

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 08:15 AM

Outside scouting, I help run a program that needs lots of volunteers.  For the last few years, the volunteers need 4+ hours of training plus a formal background check just to volunteer the first shift.  When people are on the fence volunteering and just want to try with a short shift of three hours or so, it's a huge obstacle.  That's how many volunteers start too.  They start with expressing an interest without having commitment.  Requiring all the training and background checks first prevents evolving the interest into a commitment.  

 

As for myself, all the recent issues have clearly affected my attitudes and actions.  You will never see me pick up a child unless it's an serious emergency.  Never a hug or arm around a shoulder.  The closest to physical contact is a hand shake.  In scouting and my other group, we've discussed our behavior.  For example, the adults volunteer with me know that we both expect to never be left alone with a child.  For example, if a child hangs back for some reason requiring an adult to hang back, then another adult automatically hangs back to make it two adults.  Same with if an adult has to go check up on multiple youth.  Usually, another adult will automatically say "Hey, I'll walk with ya."   ... These are good changes though.  


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#9 Back Pack

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 08:16 AM

@qwazse, any stats on the number of registered volunteers before and since that new rule went in to effect? Would love to know if there was a big drop in registrations.

@ianwilkins, I would never think of interacting with a youth without copying an adult or having someone I trust around. I get texts from parents asking me why I am group texting them and their son. I let them know why and they appreciate it. They trust me but I am not taking ANY chances.

In the back country it's hard to always be two deep, especially in certain situations. I always make sure I'm in a crew with scouts and adults I trust.
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#10 qwazse

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 08:51 AM

@qwazse, any stats on the number of registered volunteers before and since that new rule went in to effect? Would love to know if there was a big drop in registrations.

@ianwilkins, I would never think of interacting with a youth without copying an adult or having someone I trust around. I get texts from parents asking me why I am group texting them and their son. I let them know why and they appreciate it. They trust me but I am not taking ANY chances.

In the back country it's hard to always be two deep, especially in certain situations. I always make sure I'm in a crew with scouts and adults I trust.

None handy. Last year our Area Director said it was quite large. If I see him in a couple weeks, I'll ask if it leveled off, and if he can give me a percentage figure of the net effect.


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#11 Cambridgeskip

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 09:05 AM

@qwazse, any stats on the number of registered volunteers before and since that new rule went in to effect? Would love to know if there was a big drop in registrations.

@ianwilkins, I would never think of interacting with a youth without copying an adult or having someone I trust around. I get texts from parents asking me why I am group texting them and their son. I let them know why and they appreciate it. They trust me but I am not taking ANY chances.

In the back country it's hard to always be two deep, especially in certain situations. I always make sure I'm in a crew with scouts and adults I trust.

 

Similarly we are expected to copy in another adult if emailing or texting a scout. If I'm honest there has been the odd exchange of texts, particularly with older explorers, where I haven't but broadly yes, I would copy in at least another leader or their parents.

 

As Ian said, we don't call it two deep leadership but certainly we shouldn't plan on running an activity with only one adult present. It's either 2 or more or none

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for myself, all the recent issues have clearly affected my attitudes and actions.  You will never see me pick up a child unless it's an serious emergency.  Never a hug or arm around a shoulder.  The closest to physical contact is a hand shake.  In scouting and my other group, we've discussed our behavior.  For example, the adults volunteer with me know that we both expect to never be left alone with a child.  For example, if a child hangs back for some reason requiring an adult to hang back, then another adult automatically hangs back to make it two adults.  Same with if an adult has to go check up on multiple youth.  Usually, another adult will automatically say "Hey, I'll walk with ya."   ... These are good changes though.  

 Certainly again I would avoid hanging back with one scout, it would be multiple scouts or have another adult. Equally though I wouldn't avoid physical contact altogether. There have been times when I have had a kid who has been really quite distressed and an arm around them has been entirely the right thing to do. Although I have made it quite clear to other adults in the area what was going on.

 

I guess the question really is though how widespread that fear of having the finger pointed at you has got? It is as pervasive as it seems to be getting here?


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#12 NJCubScouter

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 10:18 AM

@ianwilkins, I would never think of interacting with a youth without copying an adult or having someone I trust around. I get texts from parents asking me why I am group texting them and their son. I let them know why and they appreciate it. They trust me but I am not taking ANY chances.

 

Copying a parent or another leader on a text or email, or some other way of making the communication not be "one on one" with a youth, is now required under the BSA YP guidelines anyway.


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#13 NJCubScouter

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 10:50 AM

The concept of a "waiting list" to join Scouting is something new to me.  In the BSA membership is handled on a unit-by-unit basis, so on a nationwide basis I am not sure how we would even know whether there was a "shortage" of volunteers nationwide (or even within a council) to the point where kids were on a "waiting list".  There are certainly units that have folded or merged due to a lack of leaders, and it has always been my impression that the remaining units just grow to accommodate those who were displaced.   But I suppose it is analogous to my neighboring council that went out of business - if one council or unit folds, the neighbors can pick up the slack, but if it keeps happening, at some point there are no neighbors left within a practical distance.

 

As for why more people don't volunteer, the "time" issue is the one I always hear about.  As others have said, it is often an excuse for the person having other priorities.  I don't think I have ever heard anyone say they would not volunteer out of concern for being "accused of something."  There may have been a stray comment or two about that in these forums over the years, but the ones I recall specifically really related more to insurance.


Edited by NJCubScouter, 12 April 2017 - 10:52 AM.

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#14 Eagledad

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 11:29 AM

As for why more people don't volunteer, the "time" issue is the one I always hear about.  As others have said, it is often an excuse for the person having other priorities.  I don't think I have ever heard anyone say they would not volunteer out of concern for being "accused of something."  There may have been a stray comment or two about that in these forums over the years, but the ones I recall specifically really related more to insurance.

It's very common today. I know of several Eagle Scouts who either didn't have kids or only daughters who wanted to give their time to a troop, but felt the appearance was not socially acceptable. This goes back at least 20 years ago. We had a neighbor 25 years ago who wouldn't let my 6 year old daughter come to his house to play with his kids until his wife was home. We thought it strange at the time, but not today.

 

Kind of sad because the scouters back in the 70s who didn't have kids seem to be the cool scouters. I think because they had toys like jeeps and motorcycles that the rest of the adults got rid of when their kids showed up.

 

I was very careful around my daughters friends. She was in the Cheer squad and we chaperoned few games. I made sure my wife was close just incase I ended up in a situation where the Cheer coach and sponsors were pulled away. The environment is not friendly to single adults hanging around kids. Or a least not male single adults.

 

My teacher son says teachers are under a lot of pressure not to get singled out with the students other than lecturing in their class. He gave up Facebook when he started. And the kids know this. He works with high risk kids and some of them know how to use the system to their advantage. If they want to get back at a teacher, the raise the "R" card. It's a big hassle for the teacher and school. There are no repercussions on the students for false alarms.

 

Barry


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#15 Cambridgeskip

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 12:05 PM

The concept of a "waiting list" to join Scouting is something new to me.  In the BSA membership is handled on a unit-by-unit basis, so on a nationwide basis I am not sure how we would even know whether there was a "shortage" of volunteers nationwide (or even within a council) to the point where kids were on a "waiting list".  There are certainly units that have folded or merged due to a lack of leaders, and it has always been my impression that the remaining units just grow to accommodate those who were displaced.   But I suppose it is analogous to my neighboring council that went out of business - if one council or unit folds, the neighbors can pick up the slack, but if it keeps happening, at some point there are no neighbors left within a practical distance.

 

As for why more people don't volunteer, the "time" issue is the one I always hear about.  As others have said, it is often an excuse for the person having other priorities.  I don't think I have ever heard anyone say they would not volunteer out of concern for being "accused of something."  There may have been a stray comment or two about that in these forums over the years, but the ones I recall specifically really related more to insurance.

 

Ours is also handled on a group to group basis but we have an annual scout census on 31 Jan where each group submits its numbers to HQ broken down into various categories. This also includes those on its waiting list who are old enough to have joined but haven't yet been offered a place (as opposed to the parents who have their 4 year olds on the waiting list)

 

A lot of groups here use a system called Online Scout Manager (OSM) which has been designed to produce this at data the push of a button (it does a lot of other useful stuff as well like collect subs by direct debit, online sign ups for camps, automatically update badge records). So I can see that at the moment my group has a waiting list of 

 

15 x scout age

8 x cub age

8 x beaver age

6 x too young (so not included in the 50000)


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#16 Col. Flagg

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 12:13 PM

Sorry, but I had to laugh at the thread title. Just gave me images of Ralphie pinning down Scott Farkas. Must admit, there have been a few volunteers that I've wanted to, well, you know... :blink:  ;) 

RalphieBeatsBully.gif


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#17 fred johnson

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 12:18 PM

It is as pervasive as it seems to be getting here?

 

I clearly do fear having the finger pointed at me.  I think many people have that opinion too.  Strongly so.  I think any adult that volunteers in a youth program should have concern.  And if they don't have concern, then I'd be concerned about them. 

 

I don't think it blocks volunteer.  But it clearly changes the experience.  And by changing that experience, I think it does affect how many volunteers you get.  

 

Perhaps what changed volunteering even more is this ... adult volunteers in the 1970s (especially in cub scouts) would wait until the kids were asleep and then partake in a beer or two.  As long as I've been in scouting, events have been dry.  I think that has had as much of an impact as anything else.  ... A good impact, but still an impact.


Edited by fred johnson, 12 April 2017 - 12:18 PM.

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#18 fred johnson

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 12:19 PM

We had a neighbor 25 years ago who wouldn't let my 6 year old daughter come to his house to play with his kids until his wife was home. We thought it strange at the time, but not today.

 

I've done that exact thing.  When friends visit, kids are required to stay outside until wife is home.  I've even kept the garage door open and moved cars out so kids could play outside in the garage during a heavy rain.  


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#19 Ankylus

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 01:43 PM

In my experience, the biggest impediment to recruiting adult volunteers is time commitment fro training. We require position appropriate training before registering them.  Some won't do anything because they just don't want to be bothered. Some will volunteer only for those positions with minimal online training. A very few will take on the positions tat require training beyond online training.

 

But the fear of the legal allegation is very real. We work really hard to develop techniques to prevent that, including YPT techniques espoused by BSA. 


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#20 MattR

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 03:41 PM

Maybe I'm just naive, but I just don't see getting sued over sexual abuse as the only reason to get sued. You're taking someone's child on a campout. All sorts of things can go wrong. Cooking bacon, climbing on rocks, throwing rocks, campfires, weather, bears, alligators, the list goes on. Not only that but we're encouraging them to do things on their own.

 

Now, how many scouts have died in the past 10 years? How many have been sexually molested? How many scouters have sued, been sent to jail, or for some other reason been caught up in the legal system over these tragedies? Is the probability higher or lower than being hit by lightning above timberline?

 

This is a big boogie man. People don't volunteer because they don't want to spend their time with children. There are lots of reasons but the folks that say they don't want to be sued are the same people that shouldn't be working with scouts anyway because they'll never let the scouts do anything fun.


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