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Are we really helping anyone?


Best Answer SSF , 17 April 2017 - 12:25 PM

Matt,

I think this is a great question you've asked and the story you shared is a great example of what scouting should be.

 

I think you touch on (as I see it) the very important issue of how far askew the BSA program has come from, what it was intended to be. . 

 

I'm envious of the fact that your troop has been devoid of any of the type of vindictiveness, pettiness, elitism, power tripping, egotism and rogue operations (I don't use any of these descriptions lightly) that I've experienced, as a scouter, or as a parent. 

 

It's always disheartening to me that when people come to this board seeking advice or recommendation about problems within their troop, the most common answer given is very often "find a new troop, this one will never change," but that's just like sweeping dirt under a rug; i.e. the real problem is never actually addressed and these troops continue to operate however they please...and the BSA (and their Charter Orgs) just let them do it.

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#1 MattR

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 09:30 AM

I got back from a great campout this weekend. The scouts came up with a mash up of hide and seek with a first aid competition - once you find the hidden scout you had to render first aid. Then we brought out half a dozen axes of various sizes and the scouts had a bunch of fun splitting a lot of wood. With that wood there was a fire building competition and then everyone cooked over the resulting fires. All this just so we could pack up quickly and get back for any Easter activities.

 

At the parking lot when we got back there was a mom of a scout that had joined just a few months ago that a few adults were talking to. Her son did a great job at everything and was all smiles. So we told the mom. She was so happy. Her first language is not English but her broken English, smiles and thank yous were more than enough to convey her message. The other adults left and I just hung around and kept talking, more to be polite than anything else. The mom said the thanks were from the bottom of her heart. She was getting a bit emotional. She finally told me that her husband had passed away several years ago and she knew her son needed more men in his life. That explained everything. It also left me a bit speechless and, I don't know, maybe just content. In some tiny little way we helped out and made the world a better place. It was good. It wasn't great. It wasn't going to make the news. It obviously wasn't bad. It was good.

 

I look back at the past week or so on this forum, with all the discussions about Wood Badge, lack of volunteers, screwed up units, and all the other sources of angst, and I just wonder why there's such a big disconnect between what I see and what I read here. It's not that my troop doesn't have problems, it certainly does. But rarely does the drama in my troop ever get close to what I see on this forum. I'm not trying to point fingers because I'm just as guilty as everyone else, but scouting is supposed to be some sort of big camp fire where people can get away from the daily grind, drama, and confrontation. Where helpful and friendly are as important as solving a problem. For this mom and me it is. I'm not so sure about this forum.

 

Is this forum really helping anyone?


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#2 Col. Flagg

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 09:37 AM

But rarely does the drama in my troop ever get close to what I see on this forum. I'm not trying to point fingers because I'm just as guilty as everyone else, but scouting is supposed to be some sort of big camp fire where people can get away from the daily grind, drama, and confrontation. Where helpful and friendly are as important as solving a problem. For this mom and me it is. I'm not so sure about this forum.

 

Is this forum really helping anyone?

 

Your question, for me, is a bit akin to walking in to an ER and seeing all the carnage, mayhem and gore and wonder if the healthcare system really works. Here, we see the incoming crappola on a daily basis. It gets triaged and addressed as needed. The help, care and impact on those folks walking through the front door may not be immediately evident to those who don't stick around or see the end results.

 

For example, I received a note from someone here about my response to Philmont planning. They said they had wished they had known any of that prior to their last trip. They printed off the reply and showed it to their crews going this summer and it was an immediate help to them. In their words, "I just may have helped them save their summer."

 

Any way, that's my opinion.


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#3 DuctTape

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 09:58 AM

I know I have gained some useful tidbits here. Some of which is understanding the perspective of others. Even if I disagree, I can appreciate the conviction of their beliefs which are their basis. I might have different beliefs, which lead me to a different perspective, but I now better understand why I disagree with someone.
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#4 Stosh

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 10:30 AM

How boring would this forum be if all we heard were glowing reports of everyone doing everything correct for every boy.  I would love to do nothing more than rant on about my boys and never have to discuss all the "failures", negative votes with feet, program snafu's, etc.  I would like to not have to try and help other scouters who do find the bumps in the road.

 

After 40+ years of scouting, I would love to say it has all been a walk in the park, but it hasn't. 

 

What I have always taught my boys, making mistakes, having things go wrong, etc. are nothing more than learning experiences.  One can either learn from their own mistakes, which tends to be a bit more painful. Or one can learn from the mistakes of others.  My preference!

 

But on the other hand, if all my life experiences have been positive, maybe there's a gem or two in the weeds that might help someone else out there with getting through a tough spot or two.  How am I to know how I might help if I don't know what it is that they are struggling with?

 

Although it doesn't always come through very well with just the printed text, I think the mainstays on the forum try for the most part to keep things up-beat and helpful. 

 

Like many here, we have 10+ years on the forum of offering advice (whether it is welcomed or not), but the underlying idea behind the whole process is the reference back to the Scout Oath ".....help other people at all times!..."  This needs to apply to other scouters as well.

 

And I come back to this forum over and over again, not because of some misplaced, "been-there, done-that" attitude, but because I have learned more from others than what I feel I have given to the forum.  We have a ton of lurkers out there that know what I am referring to.


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Stosh

 

There's a reason why I don't always answer the phone, doorbell or comments on forums.  :)


#5 qwazse

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 10:47 AM

@MattR, international parents, when they finally get the courage to send their boys into the woods with us, are the most grateful people I know. :wub:

 

I was referred to this forum because I was getting a lot of cross-talk from people who were telling me how to advise my crew, but weren't willing to listen to the youth about how they wanted to run their crew (and their troops for that matter).

 

My council and area Venturing committees were also a great help, but I touched base with them less than once a month, and I really needed to get up to speed faster than that. National's sites (including Scouting magazine) were full of spit-and-polish vignettes, but no nitty-gritty.

 

Well, grit sometimes rubs people the wrong way, but it is mighty helpful stuff when you've got some rough edges to sand off. I'd like to think I'm a smoother advisor from the dialogue here.

 

And, I have passed on the most applicable posts from these forums to scouters and parents who might benefit from them.


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#6 SSF

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 12:25 PM   Best Answer

Matt,

I think this is a great question you've asked and the story you shared is a great example of what scouting should be.

 

I think you touch on (as I see it) the very important issue of how far askew the BSA program has come from, what it was intended to be. . 

 

I'm envious of the fact that your troop has been devoid of any of the type of vindictiveness, pettiness, elitism, power tripping, egotism and rogue operations (I don't use any of these descriptions lightly) that I've experienced, as a scouter, or as a parent. 

 

It's always disheartening to me that when people come to this board seeking advice or recommendation about problems within their troop, the most common answer given is very often "find a new troop, this one will never change," but that's just like sweeping dirt under a rug; i.e. the real problem is never actually addressed and these troops continue to operate however they please...and the BSA (and their Charter Orgs) just let them do it.


Edited by SSF, 17 April 2017 - 12:26 PM.

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#7 Tampa Turtle

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 12:30 PM

I like Scouter to hash over problems and vent and less to 'humble-brag'. But yes, we are achieving results--it is just hard to see. 


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#8 The Latin Scot

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 12:31 PM

I have only been on this forum for a few months, and I have been a Cub Scout leader for only a little longer than that (not quite a year and a half) and I can honestly say that I have been HUGELY blessed by some of the counsel and advice and direction I have found here. Sure there are a lot of posts that I gloss over, and some things I flat-out disagree with, but really, I don't mind that when I consider the wealth of experience and knowledge that can be found here. A place where I can run ideas past others, ask questions, and get advace about hard questions is invaluable to somebody like me, who wants to run a great program but doesn't have experienced leaders nearby with whom I can confer and seek suggestions. So thank you everybody who has helped me as I have gotten used to my role as a Scouter! I am truly grateful to have come across these forums.

 

So in answer to your query, MattR - yes. This forum is really helping ME. Very much so. 

 

And who knows? Maybe something I say will be helpful to somebody else someday too.  :happy:


Edited by The Latin Scot, 17 April 2017 - 12:32 PM.

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#9 Sentinel947

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 12:43 PM

@Col. Flagg hit my thoughts. A lot of folks come here to vent and get advice. That tends to be pessimistic and messy at times.

If I make a thread "Your biggest Scouting win/success story of 2016/2017" the tone will be much brighter than usual. I think I'm going to.. I could use the pick me up.
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#10 desertrat77

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 12:52 PM

Scouter.com is a great place for people to vent and argue. 

 

Hopefully folks feel better afterwards.   Then they'll go back to their district or troop and deal with the issues.   Less emotion, better perspective, armed with good advice and feedback from the experienced scouters here at the forum.

 

Let it all hang out here.  Let it get messy and ugly.  It's okay.  We can handle it.


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#11 David CO

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 01:35 PM

Yes, I think this site does provide a useful and helpful purpose.  It gives us a forum that isn't controlled by BSA executives.  It  gives us an opportunity to say and hear the things that we scouters are really thinking, not just the sanitized public relations drivel BSA puts up on its website.

 

Bedford Falls needed the old Bailey Building and Loan, even if it was only so that they would have some place to go where they didn't have to bow down and grovel to Mr. Potter.


Edited by David CO, 17 April 2017 - 01:42 PM.

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#12 CalicoPenn

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 02:12 PM

We don't often hear back from folks who have raised issues or have asked questions what their decisions are, or if what has been suggested has made a difference.  I think that is what is missing here - the feedback loop.  As a result, I think it is easier to come to the conclusion that the forum is just not useful.  But I don't believe that's the case. 

 

This website has a lot more members than folks who post in the forums.  We rarely hear from them if they are reading the posts or taking anything away from them.  We rarely hear back from folks who ask about how to handle a recalcitrant treasurer (or ASM or CC or SM of SPL or Scout or etc.) but I suspect that some of the advice is being used.  Occasionally we'll hear from someone who has decided to change units based on the advice given here but it's fairly rare.  It's even more rare for someone to share their success stories when some piece of advice they've gotten bears fruit.

 

Often, folks like to come on and rant about a situation in their unit - usually about advancement or who does what.  Sometimes it fells like we give and read the same advice over and over again but most of us keep in mind that for the person asking, it might be new.    We can go on and on about the advantages of having Den Chiefs but we'll never know if we got through.

 

For some folks reading the forum, they may see some of those extreme examples and come away thinking that they aren't doing as badly as they thought they were but still have room for improvement - I'd consider that a success.  Others may come away with a better understanding of why things are the way they are - I'd consider that a success. 

 

Me?  I'm always amazed at how, despite all we have in common in Scouts, just how different things really are.  I know we like to point at National as some kind of monolithic entity that is ruining the Scouting experience but the reality is, they're herding cats - they do the best they can for the biggest majority they can, bit they'll never appease everyone. 

 

How does the saying go?  A hundred years from now it not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove.  But the world may be different, because I was important in the life of a boy. 

 

Take that to this level and consider that just one Unit, just one Leader, just one Scout or just one Parent may be better because of advice received here in the forum and that's good enough for me.


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#13 David CO

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 02:31 PM

National actually is a monolithic entity that is ruining the scouting experience.


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#14 NJCubScouter

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 02:51 PM

Bedford Falls needed the old Bailey Building and Loan, even if it was only so that they would have some place to go where they didn't have to bow down and grovel to Mr. Potter.

 

I guess I should take some comfort in the fact that I am a clerk at the Bailey Building and Loan instead of working for mean old Mr. Potter, metaphorically speaking.


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#15 NJCubScouter

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 03:05 PM

I think we do help a lot of the people who ask questions here, and many more who never post but who read the conversations between others.  Not everyone is helped to the same degree, and perhaps some are not helped at all, but I think that is a minority.  

 

Having said that, I have also said once or twice that perhaps some of the advice given by some posters in here should have a disclaimer attached to it.  I think that when someone gives advice that is contrary to National's guidance (and sometimes policies) on a subject, they should at least acknowledge that fact.  I also think that sometimes some people are too quick with "find another troop."  And then there are times that someone asks a fairly simply question and quickly gets five pieces of advice, all of which conflict with each other, and then the arguments start.  Well, I guess sifting through the conflicting advice allows our newer members to develop their critical thinking skills.


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#16 Col. Flagg

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 03:46 PM

I think that when someone gives advice that is contrary to National's guidance (and sometimes policies) on a subject, they should at least acknowledge that fact.


If only there was a moderator function that could enforce such an idea. ;)


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#17 Sentinel947

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 05:42 PM

If only there was a moderator function that could enforce such an idea. ;)

If there was a broad concensus we might. We try very hard to not appear to be censoring posts.

Another option is to "Mark as solved". I have done this to your post. Maybe flagging the right answer is a better way to accomplish that?

Edited by Sentinel947, 17 April 2017 - 05:42 PM.

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#18 blw2

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 08:31 AM

yes, I think it's helpful

helpful to brainstorm ideas

helpful in knowing that we aren't alone in some of these problems

helpful as a way to just think about scouting and scouting type stuff every now and then

helpful to see questions from others, that might not be something we ever even thought of before... thinking outside the box

....and helpful to read about a success story like yours every now and then.  For many folks, those don't happen very often.

 

Some folks have a personality type geared to looking for problems, dissecting problems, etc... in a way to be positive

to other personality types this often seems very negative on many levels

but to that first person it's not meant to be, and not taken as negative at all....


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#19 fred johnson

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 10:10 AM

It's always disheartening to me that when people come to this board seeking advice or recommendation about problems within their troop, the most common answer given is very often "find a new troop, this one will never change," but that's just like sweeping dirt under a rug; i.e. the real problem is never actually addressed and these troops continue to operate however they please...and the BSA (and their Charter Orgs) just let them do it.

 

I so fully agree.  It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.  Sort of like laughing at the oxymoron: military intelligence.  BSA is a faith based program who's main quality control tool is the Darwin principle.  Essentially, let the weak, bad or mis-directed units die.  The trouble is that the bad or mis-directed units are not always the weak units.  And if they are all the weak units, the unit can continue damaging youth and setting a bad name for scouting until the unit dies.  

I don't know the answer, but this is a huge issue.  


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#20 SSScout

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 10:11 AM

Matt:   I call it the "Wake" effect.  Our passage thru life affects many others, and hopefully we have an effect that helps rather than hinders.

 

The smile I give, the door I hold open, the branch I don't let slap back into the face of the fellow behind me on the trail...  all do something to let that "other"  go on their way without feeling worse than when they encountered me, because then the next person THEY encounter may get a better response, a better smile, a slower door closing and that may make THEIR passage more worth while and then they may stop and help with that flat tire....   One wave can affect many boats.


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