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  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by hippysurfer View Post
    In my district (well in the city part of it) at least, this has to do with buildings. We have 3 Groups that have their own hut and one that meets in a community hall. We have lots of new housing and a rising demand for more sections. When faced with the choice between open new Sections in the existing Groups or opening a new group, the simplest solution is to expand the existing groups.

    It makes sense to use the buildings that we have to maximum effect - rather than open another group, meeting in a community hall.

    It is possible to run at least 9 sections out of one building (probably more if you were creative about it). If is also much more efficient from a financial perspective.

    I am not saying that big is better than small - just that there may be pressures to do with infrastructure that are leading to more larger groups.
    Larger Groups have been encouraged by HQ simply because it is much easier to open a new Section in an existing Group -- no GSL and no Chair/Treasurer/Secretary to recruit; premises (hopefully) available; more people to pay for maintenance of premises; bigger parent pool to recruit Leaders / Exec members from in future; better chance of progression thru the Sections; camps should be easier to organise as there are larger pools of adults & young people to draw from.

    I have seen from a distance 'one Section' Groups; and when you look at the Compass data they have no GSL, no Treasurer... who is looking after money is one unanswered question.

    Another reason why Explorer number may be down is that there was a bulge in the numbers of 18 years olds, which have now dropped slightly (Universities have noticed this)
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    It seems to me...

    Larger groups have critical mass going for them, smaller groups don't. It stands to reason the numbers of smaller groups are going to provide a certain volatility to figures. The big groups in our district prevail, while the smaller groups tend to phase in and out.

    I think buildings provide a hub, so if you have them, your group stands a much better chance of carrying on. I don't necessarily think having buildings means yours is a big group though - I think (often) that's down to luck, by which I mean, if you're lucky enough to have motivated people driving things forward.

    We've seen that first hand at our group. You get a batch of really interested people in - a good chair and GSL, it might only be one person... Then you get a lull, those people move on for various reasons and are replaced with placeholders - people who've just had their arms twisted. At that point, for the group, it can be a gentle passive decline as things slip and slide.

    For us, we stopped putting our marquee up, we got rid of our van. The kid's numbers dropped off, the hall and other buildings weren't being looked after and so on...

    We're recovering now right enough. Hall has been renovated, out buildings have been fixed up... Hall hires are now a significant source of income, (if you're talking about running nine sections out of a hall, there is a balance to be struck here...) We could open another Beaver and Cub section, but can't get leaders for the current sections running, so...

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    When we switched to Explorers way back when, in our district, the first thing that happened was, all kids over 15.5 and under 18 left. They didn't want to go back to Scouts - which was what Explorers looked like. At VS's they were doing their own thing, organising their own stuff - they even had their own bank accounts....
    Jaysus. We had an active district VSU, the others having withered on the vine, we went to a district wide presentation that kept banging on about "flexibility" every other slide, I think they were talking about how ESUs could be organised. I could feel the unhappiness in waves from the 16-17 year olds who were already used to going on the beers with the Ventures (different times) "they think we're going to go back and join this Explorers with people we don't know?"....I asked them to let me talk to a few people, so over wine and snacks (that's how we roll) I buttonholed the DC and some people from county, and told them to put their flexible money where their flexible mouth was, and all my U18 Ventures would be Explorers in name only, and joining the new District Network that was all the same people that was meeting in the same place at the same time. Just for the transition period. We got 100% of Ventures moving to Explorers/Network. Then they told me Network only needed one leader, and that wasn't me! So I joined an Explorer unit that had been set up a few months before, rogue, as they had a big bunch of 15 year old scouts who all had keen mates, that the scout leaders didn't want to drift off from scouting - a ready made ESU of at least 10 or so.

    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    As you say, we've been here before. The way things are with us? We had an ESU attached to the group, which just closed due to the main brunt of members going to Uni. Currently, there is no 'district' provision for Explorers, although there are a couple (maybe three?) units attached to other groups who will accept Scouts from elsewhere. But, none of ours want to go elsewhere. I'm told this is true across the district. Troops tend to keep older Scouts on as YL's if they can.

    Which is what most troops seem to be doing.
    In your area maybe.

    I guess the crux of it is, no offence, but it looks like we scout in districts that are at different ends of a spectrum. Though mine isn't perfect by a long chalk, yours sounds...less than ideal.
    Ian Wilkins
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianw View Post
    Jaysus. We had an active district VSU, the others having withered on the vine, we went to a district wide presentation that kept banging on about "flexibility" every other slide, I think they were talking about how ESUs could be organised. I could feel the unhappiness in waves from the 16-17 year olds who were already used to going on the beers with the Ventures (different times) "they think we're going to go back and join this Explorers with people we don't know?"....I asked them to let me talk to a few people, so over wine and snacks (that's how we roll) I buttonholed the DC and some people from county, and told them to put their flexible money where their flexible mouth was, and all my U18 Ventures would be Explorers in name only, and joining the new District Network that was all the same people that was meeting in the same place at the same time. Just for the transition period. We got 100% of Ventures moving to Explorers/Network. Then they told me Network only needed one leader, and that wasn't me! So I joined an Explorer unit that had been set up a few months before, rogue, as they had a big bunch of 15 year old scouts who all had keen mates, that the scout leaders didn't want to drift off from scouting - a ready made ESU of at least 10 or so.



    In your area maybe.

    I guess the crux of it is, no offence, but it looks like we scout in districts that are at different ends of a spectrum. Though mine isn't perfect by a long chalk, yours sounds...less than ideal.
    Our district is beginning to pick up again and rebuild, but in honesty, groups here have always done their own thing. Some of the stories here about how involved districts are with groups are... Ummm... Interesting... That's not how we've ever rolled.

    My experience on switch over to Explorers/Network was somewhat different to yours. There was no flexibility. Not with members and not with erstwhile VS leaders - who pretty much got dumped. It was seen as an opportunity to segregate over and under 18's - and nothing was going to get in the way of that. (Which to be honest, I sort of understood...)

    Network - which we tried to continue with for a while - was in some regards even worse. So much so, it was actually quite funny. We had gangs of 18 to 25 year old's roving around telling old VS leader's they were no longer needed - unless they wanted to be on service teams for events. At times the fervour seemed very cult-like, we had ex-VS's who'd really bought into the new set up talking to ex-VSL's at national camps (in Scotland), essentially sacking their own leaders. I remember being cornered myself - the news was not good, they just wanted over 25's gone - I think I was late 20's at the time. The new ethos was, empowering 18 to 25 yo's and giving them the confidence to do their own thing (except when they needed a minibus etc), and to give them the confidence to work with adults - by excluding everyone over 25 from network completely.

    It was a wee bit odd and not a little harsh on volunteers who'd put in a lot of effort over the years. Coupled in with that, Explorers was off limits for a lot of the old VSL's - we seemed to be tainted. We couldn't go up and we couldn't go down. Meanwhile, (in our district) some Scout Leaders were drafted in to kick of a district ESU, they promptly all fell out (creative differences), and it folded after 18 months and never really kicked off again.

    For those 15.5 to 17 yo's? There was no where for them to go, which essentially halved our membership. At the time there were two VSU's operating in our district, into which scouts from all groups gravitated. At it's height, there was maybe forty or fifty of them, and most were under 18, we had very few over 18's because they tended to disappear off to university.

    All of that came down from Scottish HQ. We had the Network launch camp at Fordell, and it was, erm, an interesting weekend to say the least. There was a lot of unhappiness and a lot of bemusement. Would you believe, at times, it got incredibly heated too...

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    I remember being cornered myself - the news was not good, they just wanted over 25's gone - I think I was late 20's at the time. The new ethos was, empowering 18 to 25 yo's and giving them the confidence to do their own thing (except when they needed a minibus etc), and to give them the confidence to work with adults - by excluding everyone over 25 from network completely.
    Ha, so I spent, when was it? 2002? Yep, County decided the changeover was 1st September, we, the VSU and VSLs (me), had decided to run the first Theme Park Camp on one of the first weekends of September, and it was for the older sections, caused us all sorts of problems, but we ended up with a mix of Ventures having a last hoorah, and newly formed Network. Even had 4 come down from your bonny Scotland (Glasgow). It was definitely more Venture camp than Explorer camp. Anyway, I spent at least the first year of Explorers/Network running Explorers on one night, and going down to Network on the other night to see all my ex-Venture buddies, even if just in the pub after their meeting, we decided it was important linking coordination. Talking of minibuses, me and the other VSL (now Network leader) have been invited on most of their stag weekends in the ensuing years...to drive a minibus. Good times.

    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    It was a wee bit odd and not a little harsh on volunteers who'd put in a lot of effort over the years. Coupled in with that, Explorers was off limits for a lot of the old VSL's - we seemed to be tainted. We couldn't go up and we couldn't go down. Meanwhile, (in our district) some Scout Leaders were drafted in to kick of a district ESU, they promptly all fell out (creative differences), and it folded after 18 months and never really kicked off again.
    I think we had a mix of new people, thinking back, some ex-cub leaders, and me, an ex-VSL, pretty sure I wasn't tainted, though I probably had a few pointed comments about not going to the pub with them etc etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    All of that came down from Scottish HQ. We had the Network launch camp at Fordell, and it was, erm, an interesting weekend to say the least. There was a lot of unhappiness and a lot of bemusement. Would you believe, at times, it got incredibly heated too...
    Nope, not surprised. Change something people love, and they'll get angry, that's human nature.
    Ian Wilkins
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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    How the launch of Explorers worked in our District.

    Recruited someone as DESC
    Ignored all current VSLs and decided centrally where new ESUs would be based and therefore which Groups would be likely to feed which ESUs. There was zero consulation or taking into account where the current VSUs were based or even asking which Groups would like to partner with an potential ESU.

    We went along to one meeting of what was supposed to be our new ESU but it was based at another Groups HQ on a different night to our Scouts and they already had 3 Leaders (does an ESU really need 5 Leaders?). Our VSU was based at the same place on the same night as our Troop so linking was much easier.
    We decided we would simply lose the vast majority of Scouts at 14 if we tried to get them to move meeting evening and place so we just turned our VSU into an ESU and presented it as a fait accompli to District, we had the Leaders, we had the meeting place, we had enough kids to start an ESU and we had a Group wanting to partner with an ESU so either they accepted it or they risked losing all of that (I would have helped with Scouts rather than help with another ESU even though Explorer was the age range I would prefer to work with). We are still here about 15 years later and the other ESU we were supposed to be part of has also happily existed for all that time as well.

    Since we got a new DESC about 5 or so years ago we have opened 3 new Units (although one has since folded due to Leadership problems) and numbers grew steadily year on year until 2017 when we saw our first ever fall in Explorer numbers but we still have the most Explorers of any District in our County.
    Last edited by shiftypete; 06-11-2018 at 11:48 AM.

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    Interesting to hear about other people's experiences.

    Our district has one quite big group (in the county town) and several smaller groups round about. District (historically) was made up (mostly) from people who'd come through that one big group. That wasn't always the case, people from other smaller groups occasionally snuck in.

    It's just interesting that a district, which never ran a section before, was expected to just set up an ESU and have it up and running. No one had ever done anything like that before.

    The first ESU roved round the county. It met in a different hall every two weeks. They'd send a letter out (not even joking about that) saying where the next meeting would be. I think, they couldn't plan that far ahead because halls were being booked by outside parties for general fundraising. At some point, the two main leaders fell out (over DoE of all things), and it petered out.

    I can't remember if we had a DESC back then... I don't think we did... But then, what we did have, was a very top down district, I mean - groups still mostly ignored most of what came from the DC and commissioners - but because Explorers was a district provision and due to VS's just not being particularly trusted by, well, anyone really... It was a perfect storm - district and group committees seized the opportunity.

    It's probable that these changes (along with all the new training and systems - NAP etc) caused our district to collapse. Groups ploughed on regardless, but district still hasn't recovered. We have AGM's (obviously), but they're a shadow of what they used to be. Being a commissioner with Scouts used to hold a certain cachet, East Lothian is dead posh in places, so we used to get that type of person - quite plummy, maybe had some sort of civic title, and very civic minded and old fashioned about duty etc with it. (Garth Morrison ex-chief scout was Lord Lieutenant of East Lothian... That kind of thing...)

    Now though, it's... Ummm... Not people like that. Usually it's no one, more often, it's a bureaucrat who likes the process more than they appreciate the reality.

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    I find it hard to understand how this is so difficult. (Why people get so focused on Group v District). Scouts happens in Troops, Explorers happens in Units.

    We started an ESU in 2012, it works with Scout Troops in 3 Groups. The Explorers enjoy being part of a wider social group. Recruiting leaders is a bit harder, but finding Scout Troop leaders is not easy either.

    Our numbers (with projection for next term) are here - https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...at=interactive

    Graham

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    Quote Originally Posted by GScrimgeour View Post
    I find it hard to understand how this is so difficult. (Why people get so focused on Group v District). Scouts happens in Troops, Explorers happens in Units.

    We started an ESU in 2012, it works with Scout Troops in 3 Groups. The Explorers enjoy being part of a wider social group. Recruiting leaders is a bit harder, but finding Scout Troop leaders is not easy either.

    Our numbers (with projection for next term) are here - https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...at=interactive

    Graham
    so, well over 40 soon? probably too big... no? that shows you are doing it right, which is awesome

    a good troop should be able to feed a good unit and both be fully sustainable. if you have fewer units than troops, it seems there is a problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GScrimgeour View Post
    I find it hard to understand how this is so difficult. (Why people get so focused on Group v District). Scouts happens in Troops, Explorers happens in Units.

    We started an ESU in 2012, it works with Scout Troops in 3 Groups. The Explorers enjoy being part of a wider social group. Recruiting leaders is a bit harder, but finding Scout Troop leaders is not easy either.

    Our numbers (with projection for next term) are here - https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...at=interactive

    Graham
    It's not group v district. It should be group and/or district. But, in some places (usually to do with who ever happens to be the dominant voice at the time), it becomes district or nothing.

    I think it depends on your locale. In Edinburgh, the district has always been quite strong, with Bonaly there and troops mixing as a matter of course. We've not done that for years in East Lothian. That, coupled with groups having a lot more distinct catchment areas - it just makes for poor mixing.

    I'd also say, it's not the kids who won't mix - we know that can be tough, but once they get together, it's all fine. It's often leaders. If they have enough young folk feeding through from their own group, why should they cater to others? I can see that, it's already a lot of work, it's not that they're being selfish, it's more a case of self preservation. I'm not saying they're turning folk away (although they might be, Haddington for example have 40-odd young folk on board), it's just that they don't advertise. I know we didn't.

    And there's also the old chestnut about leader styles... That's a big one too...

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    Your spreadsheet is always interesting.

    There are some anomolies - a drop off in Explorers, but an increase in Explorer provision. The huge jump in Network.

    On Explorers, I think the issue comes back to a shortfall on how Scouting on the ground works in many places and the theory of how it should work. I did not lose Scouts when they moved to Explorers, if they had stuck out four years in Scouts, they moved on to Explorers. They knew the people, they felt at home. I still have some of my Explorers still with us in Navs, because we are their familiar surroundings, they belong.

    When Scout Groups operate in virtual isolation, with minimal District influence, and few joint events, then "we" create silos rather than a "network" and as a consequence, when people reach the top of their available silo, they become reluctant to join an unknown network with unknown people.

    I have long felt that the silo model of Scouting was much more prevelant than the "network" model.

    Too many young people have nowhere to go when they leave Scouts because they have never been introduced to a wider network.

    I am in no different a scenario with Navigators than I was when I was in Scouts. We ran a silo, because no-one else wanted to run a networked District (past Beaver age).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post

    I have long felt that the silo model of Scouting was much more prevelant than the "network" model.

    ).
    Agree with this.

    Without fail, if we put our scouts with other scouts, they always end up getting along and making friends. We don't do it often, but when we do - with the usual exception (we all have that one scout who just pouts at anything they don't know) - they make friends. Doesn't matter if it's not lasting - for that weekend, they're all pals.

    For us, it boils down to leaders and time. If we had more leaders, then each individual leader would have more time to concentrate on leading (and organising joint activities), instead of standing in for the chair, or filling in for a district role. And I maintain, the reason so many are having to stand in for district roles, is because we're being strangled by impenetrable rules.

    It's not the young folk, it's the leaders. But it's not the leader's fault - it's because they don't have the time, and due to a panoply of regulations, the inclination either.

    Is what I think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post

    It's not the young folk, it's the leaders. But it's not the leader's fault - it's because they don't have the time, and due to a panoply of regulations, the inclination either.

    I disagree, somwhat. It IS the Leaders' fault. We can make time, if we wish. The regulations are a red herring, it is the disinclination to work together that is an issue.

    So... I get asked to join as an SL because if I don't the Troop will close. I reluctantly take the role, only to find that the Group is closing because of a lack of any trustees. My wife and I step in and find leaders and Trustees. The existing CSL, gets pissed off and makes life mega difficult. We resign.

    We move to group 2. Here we are initially welcomed. But we face similar issues of retirals, So we set about trying to stabilise things and lose the CSLs who don't like change.

    I become invested in Scouting in every way possible and drag my team with me. But it seems that others don't want to play. One DC told me to stop doing so much. I was making other leaders feel bad. When we managed to raise many thousands of pounds for our group, the DC asked us to stop because others were not getting any funding and it made them feel inadequate. I enquired if they had applied for the funds? No, they hadn't. Would they like help applying for the funds. No thanks. Could we help train their adults so that they could use equipment? No thanks. They didn't wish to be beholden to us ( I was told).

    ADC put on joint activities for Scouts, we were the only ones who turned up. They simply did not want to mix. The one Camping Competition that we did, was won, places one and two to our two patrols. No-one wanted to repeat the competition after we had won.

    There were no rules in the way, they could have sent kids without adults to almost anything we did. They didn't, it was down to Leaders' disinclination to get involved. And to an extent the kids disinclination to mix. Often at county camps, there was no cross group communication or co-operation.

    The failure to mix was an ingrained political issue. Laterly, after almost 20 years of being the only group to commit, the DC, who himself had been party to the ignoring of joint events, demanded that we play ball now that he was in charge.

    I don't have access to local census figures any more, but a look at Charity returns and online presence gives me a guilty sense of schadenfreude. I'm not playing a numbers game, in fact we are very close to closing membership and establishing waiting lists. (In the past I'd just have kept them coming on the basis that more kids meant more adults...)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    I disagree, somwhat. It IS the Leaders' fault. We can make time, if we wish. The regulations are a red herring, it is the disinclination to work together that is an issue.

    So... I get asked to join as an SL because if I don't the Troop will close. I reluctantly take the role, only to find that the Group is closing because of a lack of any trustees. My wife and I step in and find leaders and Trustees. The existing CSL, gets pissed off and makes life mega difficult. We resign.

    We move to group 2. Here we are initially welcomed. But we face similar issues of retirals, So we set about trying to stabilise things and lose the CSLs who don't like change.

    I become invested in Scouting in every way possible and drag my team with me. But it seems that others don't want to play. One DC told me to stop doing so much. I was making other leaders feel bad. When we managed to raise many thousands of pounds for our group, the DC asked us to stop because others were not getting any funding and it made them feel inadequate. I enquired if they had applied for the funds? No, they hadn't. Would they like help applying for the funds. No thanks. Could we help train their adults so that they could use equipment? No thanks. They didn't wish to be beholden to us ( I was told).

    ADC put on joint activities for Scouts, we were the only ones who turned up. They simply did not want to mix. The one Camping Competition that we did, was won, places one and two to our two patrols. No-one wanted to repeat the competition after we had won.

    There were no rules in the way, they could have sent kids without adults to almost anything we did. They didn't, it was down to Leaders' disinclination to get involved. And to an extent the kids disinclination to mix. Often at county camps, there was no cross group communication or co-operation.

    The failure to mix was an ingrained political issue. Laterly, after almost 20 years of being the only group to commit, the DC, who himself had been party to the ignoring of joint events, demanded that we play ball now that he was in charge.

    I don't have access to local census figures any more, but a look at Charity returns and online presence gives me a guilty sense of schadenfreude. I'm not playing a numbers game, in fact we are very close to closing membership and establishing waiting lists. (In the past I'd just have kept them coming on the basis that more kids meant more adults...)
    While there is no accounting for the human condition. Temporal issues are (arguably) even more intractable than personal foibles and more rules means more time spent satisfying them. (And it's not just rules. Just because (if) we sent a group of our kids to a camp someone else organised - it doesn't mean in the eyes of parents that we're not responsible for what goes on. By which I mean, if my Scouts were away somewhere and I wasn't there - I'd still worry.)

    I think your account may also ignore other potential reasons why leaders/groups might not send members to district/joint events.
    Last edited by pa_broon74; 13-11-2018 at 03:32 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post

    I think your account may also ignore other potential reasons why leaders/groups might not send members to district/joint events.

    Oh, it does. No point in digging up some of those bodies now.
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



    www.upperdearnevalleynavigators.org.uk

  19. The Following User Says Thank You to Bushfella For This Useful Post:

    pa_broon74 (13-11-2018)

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