To all members, Past, Present, and Future!

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day, saying… “I will try again tomorrow”.

Mary Anne Radmacher’s quote rings true in the current situation where SCOUT eh! finds itself.

Born of a crisis that galvanized like-minded Scouters together, SCOUT eh! went from a dismissed, despised, and targeted association to an instrument of change.

Things are quiet at present. We appear to many as being dormant. I would like to address some of the e-mails, calls, and thoughts that I have been receiving over these last few months.

Without excusing our lack of communication to the membership completely, I would like to apologize for my own lack of leadership. I have faced an extraordinary number of hardships since December that have sucked all energy and resources from me, leaving little or nothing for my family and my volunteer work. I feel I am over the worst of it and I think that things are better in many regards. I am looking forward to a happier, more productive year with plenty of positive Scouting.

I take my role as Chair very seriously and feel in many ways that I have let you all down. It was not my intent. Having said that, here is the lay of the land as I see it.

Policy 1014

I went on record as saying this was a good start. I am afraid that Policy 1014 has mostly been misunderstood, poorly communicated, and, with a few notable exceptions, either poorly instituted or not followed at all. Most people think that it was the bone they threw SCOUT eh! so we would go away. Others felt that some “heavy lifting” was done by the board in order to implement this policy. No matter what you believe, I am afraid not much can be done about it until the full process has had a full cycle.

If we critique it now, we will be accused as negative, never happy ne’er do wells. In order for people to see that the policy does not work they have to live through a cycle of it “not working”. Only then can we accurately and positively work to have it changed into a more reasonable and far reaching attempt at democracy within Scouts Canada. Patience is the name of the game here. I will take responsibility for SCOUT eh!’s lack of a cohesive approach to the process. We should have geared our membership up to stand for election in all councils. We would have been better placed to see the process. Regardless, there have been numerous irregularities which we must document for the future.

To that end I would like to ask all members to inquire at their own council level to find out anything and everything they can about the process as it pertains to them. We need details like number of candidates, quality of their bios (if they were allowed to publish them at all), participation by groups, numbers of votes cast, execution of the policy, etc. So armed, we will head to the grindstone to see what we can do about making Policy 1014 a better one.

Camp Properties

Camp properties will be on our agenda again real soon. As Scouter Liam Morland says,

Out of the 2004 property review came a bunch of 5-year plans. It will have been five years in 2009, so these should be expiring. This combined with ongoing membership decline means that we can expect another round of attempted camp sales. This will likely increase interest in SCOUT eh!, if we can get the message out to those who are interested.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. The camp sales issue is the strongest emotional foundation of SCOUT eh!. Our membership was forged largely on this issue and we must stand ready to fight once more. We must be vigilant. We must keep our collective ears to the ground for any sign of a process that does not include the membership when it comes to property disposal. Be Prepared! This will be an issue again next year.

SCOUT eh! National Executive and Elections

Our constitution calls for strong representation. Aside from the Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary, we are mandated to have one SCOUT eh! representative from each council on our executive. Our constitution also mandates free elections for all positions every two years. The next election is this fall before the Scouts Canada’s AGM. I encourage all members to search within and consider running for SCOUT eh! office. More information about our process will be coming in the next month. Being a council rep. means being in touch with your own area, its people and processes. You are already there. Being a rep. means you report on things to our executive so we may best help SCOUT eh! respond to all relevant issues in a timely and positive fashion. It’s not really difficult, takes little time, and is immensely appreciated by all members. Stand up and be counted.

Scouter Liam has said that a full executive creates resilience. He is once again right. A stronger National Executive can compensate for someone who is unable to serve fully for a time and would have undoubtedly helped us to look less dormant these past few months. Let us all work hard to fill all our elected positions. Consider running yourself. The road to change may be long but it is made eminently more pleasurable and positive with the company you keep. Serving is its own reward.

Communication

My next comments are about membership communication. We have struggled since the beginning to find the right vehicle whereby we can easily reach the largest number of SCOUT eh! members. We have had dozens of great ideas but have been unable to capitalize on them for a variety of reasons. Chief amongst these is that thorough communication takes time and money. The SCOUT eh!Yahoo! Groups forum is the quickest and easiest way to communicate with people but the problem is not everyone is registered as a user and many resist joining it because they do not want any more e-mails. A monthly e-letter is great too, but the time required to generate one that is worthwhile for everyone is considerable. Our website is fantastic. It’s easy to navigate, helpful, and most of the time has the latest news. Kudos to our web-masters.

I propose four things:

  1. A renewed push to have as many members sign up on the Forum. It is easy, secure, fun, and a great way to keep up with the cut and thrust of day to day activity.
  2. We need three people (West, Central, & East) to be on a monthly newsletter editorial staff. Many hands make light work. You will even be able to harass your national officers for monthly content. No experience required. Put on your water wings and jump right on in.
  3. A monthly email to all members with the link to the website and the Yahoo Forum with a reminder to check on what is new. (This is a mostly automated process and will help keep SCOUT eh! in our thoughts.)
  4. I am working on a SCOUT eh! Webcast. More news on this to follow.

Anyone who wants to help is welcome to talk to any SCOUT eh!Council Rep. or National Officer.

New Initiatives

Ted, Don, and I have discussed SCOUT eh!’s relevance in today’s association on many levels. While we wait for the tea to steep for some issues, we feel we can be pro-active in some new areas.

Here are three. Your comments, additions and input are most welcome. We will endeavor to reply to all emails.

Training

Many of us have at least one Wood Badge Part II and know the value of good consistent training. Good program comes from dedicated and well trained leaders. To have a healthy membership we need well trained leaders. My straw poll of training nationally reveals a lot of irregularities and inconsistencies that work against a healthy leadership. I can see SCOUT eh! working on the promotion of training ideals that not only bolster the self confidence and ability of those trained, but also gets back to some of the traditions and history inherent to the mystique of Scouting around the world. Training seems to have been watered down so it is more available to everyone. Having easily accessible but lower standard courses does the whole movement a disservice. We should have a beefed up curricula with new approaches to making it accessible. What about employer relations? Wouldn’t it be neat if we had the ability to talk to employers on a Scouter’s behalf and stress how the importance of volunteer training has residual effects in all facets of an employees life and by supporting the employees efforts the company is supporting the community? Just as an example, this kind of approach could do incredible things for public relations, marketing, and ultimately benefit all involved.

Ombudsman

Scouts Canada and all of its members could and should benefit from the creation of a National Ombudsman Office. A place where anyone could go if they feel they have been unjustly treated or feel they have no other place to turn. An ombudsman would look at each case from all sides and suggest ways that situations could be mediated or resolved. I think this is firmly a volunteer role and not a paid position. It is also a personal favourite of mine and Teds.

Reconciliation

Over the years, Scouts Canada has lost many of the best and brightest for many reasons. They may have left for personal reasons or they may have been burned out, but thousands of leaders have left because of policies they don’t agree with or the way they feel they were treated. As an organization we must assume leadership in admitting that sometimes we were wrong and we would like to have you back to help us in a time when we really need it. The first step is having the strength of character to admit some things didn’t work out as planned. The second step is reaching out. The third step is reconciliation and welcoming back to the fold, the leaders we have already spent countless hours and money training. A leader who admits he was wrong is one who I will follow. We have to stop alienating our leaders.

Of course I would be remiss if I did not say that an empowered Scouter is a happy Scouter. True empowerment only comes through a thorough and far reaching democracy. One where a Scouter truly believes he has a say in his own destiny.

“Why Bother?”

SCOUT eh! will soon have our 4th anniversary as a Scouting force. Our accomplishments are small but many. Why bother? We have an awful lot to be proud of.

  1. We have stood fast together in the face of criticism, derision and mockery. We have faced some of the most un-Scout like behaviour you can imagine.
  2. We have had coast-to-coast participation in our own elections and eh!GMs.
  3. We have earned a grudging respect from many naysayers.
  4. We have largely helped to hold Scouts Canada accountable to the membership on properties.
  5. We have analyzed and critiqued National finances (and this at great cost to particular members.) I have not heard of one point refuted, denied, or proved false.
  6. We have met with Scouts Canada executives, Board members, and volunteers in a tireless effort to be heard, understood, and ultimately respected.
  7. We have attended and assembled at all Scouts Canada AGMs since our inaugural conference. We were even invited to speak at one.
  8. We precipitated the first ever vote for members to the Board at an AGM.
  9. We have been responsible for countless radio interviews, newspaper articles, and even one on-air debate.
  10. We have produced web-mercials with SCOUT eh! branding and messages.
  11. We produced one SCOUT eh! Podcast that was a huge hit. (Hopefully more to come and a the Video Web Cast is in the works.)
  12. We marched on Ottawa for change.
  13. We orchestrated a full frontal assault of the Scouts Canada Act (Bill S-1001) in the Canadian Senate where we had the honour of representing all ordinary members of Scouts Canada to defeat what we thought was an unjust and unfair change to the governance of our association. This we ultimately lost, but the impact of the process went a long way to creating avenues for positive dialogue with Scouts Canada.
  14. We have defended the rights of many ordinary members who were unfairly treated as volunteers. In some cases, writing letters, making phone calls, or even going to court on their behalf.
  15. We were instrumental in driving content and responses in the composition of the National Strategic Priorities document.
  16. With rare exception, we have practiced a methodical and persistent approach of positive constructive criticism in all matters.
  17. We have (to my knowledge) never, ever criticized a Scouts Canada member for not agreeing to sign on with SCOUT eh! Agreeing to disagree is an honorable thing and serves to stimulate positive debate.
  18. We were on hand from our inaugural conference to the court proceedings, beside the Timkenites as they worked to save their camp.
  19. We have planned and held three SCOUT eh! conferences, (outside of the eh!GMs) where Scouters from coast-to-coast participated in lively debates and planning sessions for Scouts Canada and SCOUT eh!’s future. (Not to mention celebrating the greatest Brotherhood.)
  20. The words SCOUT eh! have been heard and talked about in high places, including Geneva. As a model for change and community development, SCOUT eh! is a fine example of the power of motivated people.
  21. Most importantly, we have tried to a Guardian of the Scout Spirit, a Keeper of the Great Scouting Brotherhood and have tried, to the best of our ability, to live by our Promise and Laws, as we made them, to keep the Founder’s dream alive in Canadian Scouting.

Yeah! SCOUT eh! A real flash in the pan!

That is why I bother!

Yours in True Scouting Friendship,

Mike “Manitou” Reid,
Scouter and Chair, SCOUT eh!

P.S. Later this month I am traveling to Texas on business. I am using the opportunity to visit my “other” Scout Group, the Kwahadi Dancers, at their Kiva performance centre in Amarillo. I will see a performance of “Song of the Eagle” at the Kiva and then travel with them to Philmont Scout Ranch for a performance there. These two things will be crossed off my Scouting To-Do list. Philmont has been on my list since I was a Scout and Amarillo for about 10 years. Stay tuned for pictures.