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View Diary: Boy Scouts of America - Trustworthy? NOT. (73 comments)

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  •  I wouldn't even say that those at the top are (0+ / 0-)

    "conservatives" - I think that too many are simply opportunists.  They found a place where it's hard to get fired and easy to fake "success."  And it's a perfect place for the autocratically inclined - brown shirts and all....(you think someone in BSA National might have had a sense of history in changing from the olive green of my youth).

    Talking to people all over - including a lot of professionals - there's a feeling that a minority have set the tone - but they dominate and aren't readily challenged.  Even those dedicated to Scouting have learned to shut up if they want to stay involved.  

    The change in focus goes back to the 70's when the "business" approach was intorduced by the then Chief Scout Executive....  also HQ in New Jersey burned down and got moved to Texas..... sorry, but geography DOES matter.

    The focus on numbers and $$ started then - along with all the "fudging."

    LFL goes back to a program "Boypower" - same scandals then.....

    Paid staff no longer had real ties to an area - in fact were discouraged.  You have the 2 year contract Districe Exec or 5 year contract Scout Executive now..... typical corporate rotation - AND mindset.   Do what you have to do to meet goals.... you won't be around for the long term so show cares if it's all smoke and mirrors now.....

    The leadership now has a mindset that brokers NO dissent or questioning.....  I had a paid professional tell me -

    Rule no 1  NEVER say ANYTHING bad about BSA

    Rule No 2  NEVER say anything bad about any other paid professional.

    BSA has become VERY incestuous - if you leave they're not likely to take you back....

    BSA has also become VERY political - with a "good old boy" clique running things.....  

    No coincidence that most of the problems and scandals are coming out of southern region.....though Chicago is an ongoing mess (for decades)

    The problem is that BSA itself DRIVES OUT anyone that questions things too closely or pays too much attention.  They want nice OBEDIENT volunteers - not any that pay attention.

    From a site set up in response to the Atlanta problems last year:

    This sums up what a number of volunteers think about BSA at this point.  It's not everywhere, but it's in too many places and it's destroying Scouting.

    Can leopards change their spots?  Professional Scouters have shown themselves to be as slippery as eels in the past.  Sadly, I have reached the point where I do not trust them as a class.  One of my local colleagues suggested that the folks in Atlanta had violated real laws.  That real harm had been done to people (careers ended, resources illegally diverted, services not delivered) by their actions and that, if Scouting was serious about reform, a mea culpa and a resignation would not be enough.  I suspect, though, that that, and some vague promises about cleaning up the council, were all you got.

    If some one were held personally responsible, it would send a message to the whole organization that these behaviors are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  As things currently stand, no such message has been transmitted.  Instead, rumor has it that our council board has been cautioned to steer clear of the media and to refer all questions about membership to the professional staff.  By the end of summer, that same message is likely to have filtered down to all the key volunteers.  On the one hand it makes sense to coordinate the flow of organizational information through those who are in a position to have the big picture (though one wishes that board members had the big picture).  The cynic, however, sees a determined effort to plug leaks and avoid the rogue board member who goes public with the problems.  I suspect that similar guidance is happening all across the country.

    Rumor has it that Scout Executives are taught that there are two kinds of Board Members.  There are those who think for themselves and who can bring creative ideas to the organization (along with a certain amount of chaos) and those who are yes men who will not bring much energy to the process but will not bring much disruption either.  Smart Scout Executives populate their boards with the latter.  Whether or not they are taught to do this, my experience with Scout Boards is that they are largely filled with people who, by habit and inclination, defer to the professionals.

    It should also be noted that the professionals have what amounts to veto power over the appointment of all key volunteers.  Boat rockers, whistle blowers and agitators, who are all too rare to begin with, can be effectively screened out by denying them any power positions (and therefore, information access) in the organization.

    The combination of lap dog boards and control of senior and middle volunteer management positions give the pros an immensely powerful position from which to block reform (and protect their own positions).  It will take a grass roots rebellion or a determined legal attack at the top to actually reform the system nationally.  Small determined groups with strong ethics and strong stomachs can achieve local results but, unless the tide shifts nationally, the system always tries to return to the old status quo.

    A determined legal attack at the top is the fastest and surest way to root out the things that are wrong but the risks are great. A determined legal attack on the corruption at Arthur Anderson and at ENRON cured their corruption but destroyed the organizations.

    On the other hand, grass roots rebellions are also messy.  The typical volunteer scouter is only vaguely aware that the District and Council exist.  They are unaware of how they function and they little care, so long as necessary services are provided.  (Not unlike their knowledge of government...)  If the good ones knew what was going on, they would clamor for reform.  But, to make them aware of what is going on, a lot of dirty laundry would have to be hung out in public.  Scouting has many enemies who would love to use that to pick the organization apart.  Sadly, the rebellion will also divert a lot of energy that should be going into servicing youth.

    If you loose the press, the dirty linen goes public, the enemies have a field day, and maybe Scouting reforms or maybe it is not resilient enough and it dies.  The media, as I am sure you know, follow their own path and, once you have opened to them, things tend to get out of control.  Some of them are already enemies of Scouting.

    All that said, I guess I lean in the direction of going public and pushing the mantra of - preserving the "timeless values" by purging the organizational corruption - and hoping for the best.

    The acid test data are not really available to me.  If the Scout internal study in Atlanta looked at the Council as a whole and addressed the problems of membership padding and professional assessment in both the urban and suburban settings, maybe Scouting sees the light and there is some hope of internal reform.  If the study focused only on Scoutreach and the units pre-identified by outsiders as problems, national does not "get it" and strong medicine must be administered.

    The basic problem MUST BE fixed.  It is a cancer slowly eating away at the organization.  Just changing top execs in Atlanta will not get scouting to inner city boys in Atlanta ( the new execs will probably steer clear of the inner city because of the "problems" that they had there) or anywhere else.  Nor will it fix the basic climate of dishonesty created by the current professional incentive system.

    So, I apologize for rambling, but I am troubled by selecting from nothing but bad alternatives.  It is, I suspect, a little like Martin Luther.  All he wanted was for the church to reform itself.  Instead, the law of unintended consequences kicked in and the path of Christianity was altered.  I worry about the law of unintended consequences...  On the other hand, evil triumphs if good men do nothing.

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