If the BSA is volunteer-ran, why do we have professionals? Other countries have very few professionals, and their program runs really great. Why do we have to raise money for our professionals? Were you ever a professional and is that the reason why you sometimes don't "side" with the volunteer on questions? Why did you become a professional and why did you quit?
We have professionals for three major reasons: to provide a day-to-day management over the movement in our communities, states and nationally, since our volunteers cannot or do not want to provide this management themselves; to give expertise and support to unit leaders and other volunteers whom may be new or not able to receive that expertise or support through other volunteers; and to train and coach volunteers through other key volunteers elected or appointed by their peers so that their service eventually becomes less and less and the volunteers truly take up more and more of the leadership and service to youth.
We raise money for the LOCAL COUNCIL, not for our professionals through the BSA's Friends of Scouting program. Yes, some of the money we raise does pay for professional salaries and expenses, but overall, we raise money to further the Scouting program in our territories - and those professionals come along with the structure and programming in our territories.
I have NEVER been a professional, although I have applied, was accepted, and my application was circulated to various locations twice within a 15-year period.
I have proudly served as a Paraprofessional, with my last "position" serving as Paraprofessional Executive for a district in south-central Kentucky, from March of 1978 to May of 1981. I, along with seventeen other young people, were all hired under the U.S. Department of Labor's Comphensive Education and Training Act (CETA), and eventually, most of the parapros hired assumed that they would be working with kids, or serving as Scoutmasters, and left. My primary mentor and supervisor was the Regional Area Director at that time for Kentucky and Tennessee, William J. Woodall, and I learned a LOT of what I know about the profession of Scouting from him and some of the best field professionals in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
My first assignment was to work as a Paraprofessional to two Councils: the Lonesome Pine Council, headquartered in Pikeville, Kentucky; and the Sequoyah Council, headquartered in Johnson City, Tennessee. I worked under the supervision of both the Council Executives of those two Councils as well as the Area Director.
As the number of Paraprofessionals whittled downward, I was reassigned and promoted as a District Representative in two Districts within the Bluegrass and Lonesome Pine Councils. When the Lonesome Pine Council merged with Bluegrass, I became a staffing asset within the Bluegrass Council. Finally, I was reassigned to work urban areas within Jefferson County, Kentucky and Fayette County, Kentucky (Louisville and Lexington). The last title I had was as "Paraprofessional Executive", which was technically one and a half step downward from being an Associate District Executive.
I resigned as a Paraprofessional, despite the recommendations of several Council Scout Executives, the Area Director and the Regional Director at that time of the Southeast Region, in order to meet University requirements for entry into the final two years of service in Eastern Kentucky University's Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program. In order for me to earn my commission as a Reserve officer, I had to attend and fully participate in classes and out-of-classroom activities, many of which overlapped into the time span I would spend with volunteers and fellow professionals. In addition, I must attend a seven-week Advanced Camp and a follow-on camp with my National Guard unit during that period, and I felt at that point that I would not do the profession nor myself any good in continuing onward.
It became one of the hardest decisions of my life, and one in which in looking back, I would have to strongly consider changing, given all of the other things which have happened in my life. I loved being a (pre)profesional. I loved the interaction with volunteers, the work schedule, even the drives all around my District to provide service. There is NOTHING more cherished by me as the look on a Scout or volunteer's face when they know they've done something special...and despite everything in my life, I still believe that Scouting is a special thing to belong and be associated with.
I loved being a Paraprofessional, and I loved learning the many things that I needed to know in order to be successful. Was I successful? On a scale of one to five, others including my boss would say "4"; I would say "3". I was not a great fundraiser. I met my SME (FOS) goal only once during the three and a half years. I came close one year. My first year, I failed really badly. I was able to get a large number of youth enrolled and a large number of units chartered and I did "beat last year's" numbers six times during the three and a half year tenure. At the same time, I was able to increase the number of trained top leaders and the number of units subscribing to Boys Life and going to camp or having a summertime program.
I applied and was accepted for employment with the Birmingham Area Council two days before I was to find out whether or not I was to go to the National Guard or to the Army Reserve for my initial active duty committment. I returned to Birmingham to ask the Scout Executive to defer my appointment until after I returned back from active duty. Unfortunately, he was unable to do that because of the nature of the District and the need that District had for a professional right then and there. I felt that I've let him and those volunteers down. I later talked with the Scout Executive after he had retired and he told me that I did the right thing...but I don't know to this day if he was trying to make me feel great about my decision or if he was right.
I have NOT been in the employment of the Boy Scouts of America since May 27, 1981. Not for the lack of trying, but that's a factual statement which needs to be known. I am NOT personal friends with the current Chief Scout Executive nor his precedessor. I do NOT "spy" for the BSA nor any Region, local Council, or District and have not been asked to do so by anyone. Finally, while I do know several executives all over this country, I do NOT hold any kind of "secret meetings" nor am I invited to attend any professional training conferences nor seminars because of my previous service. To the BSA, I am a former employee, and NOT a "former professional", even though I did perform professional services in several Councils as as a Paraprofessional.
I don't "side" with the professional or the volunteer when I answer things based on my pre-professional experiences. I "side" with whichever is the correct and right thing to do. I am probably one of the few BSA professionals whom can still recite and attempt to adhere to the Scout Executive Code... and attempt to use it in many of my postings to various online forums. There are some issues that I have an obligation based on my pre-professional experiences, neither to discuss in detail nor to explain completely. There are others that I have chosen to do so for the betterment of both volunteers -- to better understand the professional - and for the betterment of the professionals, so they won't be as smug as we all thought we were before the advent of the Internet. But I will ALWAYS "protect the program and the principles of the Scouting movement."
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