Letter of the Day

Raves, rants, and comments about the 2011 uniform change
scouterjohn
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Letter of the Day

Post by scouterjohn » Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:57 pm

Please have a look at Scouter Liam's "letter of the day" from the Winnipeg Free Press.

http://tinyurl.com/4tulrxd

It is both eloquent and factual.

John

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Karl Wagner
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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by Karl Wagner » Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:50 pm

All right. I have lurked for about a week and feel compelled to weigh in...
A Scout is helpful and trustworthy,
Kind and cheerful,
Considerate and clean,
Wise in the use of all resources
Please explain to me how this negativism is in any way keeping with the Scout promise. To me, it seems neither helpful, kind, cheerful, considerate, clean, nor wise in the use of resources. If we leaders are supposed to be good role models should we not be adhering to the law we all promised to uphold? Sure there are things that National could have done better, but how is it wise in the use of resources to publicly ridicule everything, thus squandering anything positive that might come in terms of attracting NEW members or improving the public perception of Scouting.

One thing I did observe (purely anecdotal), is most tweets during the unveiling were positive and enthusiastic. Maybe the new uniform is hitting the right note with the generation our programs are supposed to serve?
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Robert D White
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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by Robert D White » Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:07 pm

Liam,
The worst part is that the new uniform was designed by a tiny, unelected, unaccountable elite without membership involvement.
Untrue. There was an online survey that was promoted through a number of channels (including this forum IIRC) asking for opinions on redesign. I know from my end as a Group Commissioner, I sent the link out to my Youth and Leaders and encouraged them to take part.

No, we didn't have a vote on the final design. But, as the adage goes, an elephant is a horse designed by committee. I wonder what the uniform would have turned out like if everyone's opinion was accepted and included.
Robert White
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bcbagheera
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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by bcbagheera » Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:58 pm

I never expected to get a vote on it, but i did expect some more consultation. Like, Option A, Option B, etc, and ask for feedback, not just come out with it and expect all to like it. There are pluses and minuses to both the new and old, and no, we will not please everyone, but a little more consultation with the "Ordinary" member would have been nice. I completed the survey last year, and thats the last I heard about it til a couple of weeks before unveiling. (and that was to tell us when it would be unveiled)

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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by whuggard » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:00 am

That letter is brutal. Shame on you Liam! How dare you slander Scouting in public like that when we are all working hard to run great programs and improve our image!
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Robert D White
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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by Robert D White » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:55 am

Liam,

I decided to wait and cool down after reading your letter before replying to it. Personally, I believe you have let your agenda for "democratic structure" outweigh the good that Scouting does.

Much ink has been spilled over the new uniform. From what I've been able to gather, from social media,is that the youth love it. As with the change from the older uniforms to the tan-style shirt, it's primarily long-term Scouters who are finding fault with it. And I don't like everything about the uniform - mainly the inappropriateness of the tan-colored pants and how they'll show up dirt.

However, there is a time and a place for airing those opinions and a Letter to the Editor in mainstream media isn't one. I'm assuming since the link we had took us to the Winnipeg Free Press, that you made a general e-mail blast and send this letter to every newspaper you could across the country. The one which appeared in Winnipeg is the only one we've seen yet.

Personally, I agree with Karl and whuggard - this was not an action which falls in line with our law or promise and will do more to harm the image of Scouting than to change the minds of those whose minds you want to change. If anything, it will damage Scouting's image and entrench positions on both sides of this perceived democratic divide even deeper.
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Errol Feldman
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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by Errol Feldman » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:07 am

I waited a while before remarking on Liam's letter also.
When I was just a little Cub, about 66 years ago, I learned that a "Scout is a Friend to All, and a Brother to every other Scout."
A knife in the back from a Brother is really the most painful cut of all...I will crawl back into my trench now and wait for it...

HARSH words, but my feelings are severely damaged.
Liam I always believed you to be a sincere and honourable Scouter even when I didn't agree withwhat you said...now... :( :? :? :?
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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by Doug Reid » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:15 am

Thank you Robert and Karl for a much better perspective on how we should be spending our energies; the betterment of an organization we all love.

Personal opinions are one thing, but to publicly write a letter filled with so many half-truths only hurts the organization you profess to want to help. I really try not to wade down in negativity, however to let this go would be wrong.

It is a tough, practical and smart-looking piece of outdoor equipment.

It might be tough but it is the most uncomfortable piece of cloth I've had to put next to my skin. From May month on it's as hot as the devil. It fits poorly and that means the youth look sloppy when we would encourage them to look smart.

The worst part is that the new uniform was designed by a tiny, unelected, unaccountable elite without membership involvement. Scouts Canada has no democratic structure and expects volunteers to serve the corporation in silence.

So much for the thousands of youth and volunteers who completed the surveys and provided their feedback. So much for the youth and their parents who took part in the focus groups and the test groups. I guess we all don't count.

I guess the fact that it was approved by the elected Scouts Canada Board of Governors doesn't count either.

As a member of the National Leadership Team I can assure Mr. Morland that we are very much a volunteer lead/staff supported organziation. If he thinks that this was somehow cooked up by employees of Scouts Canada to drive sales in Scout Shops, I would suggest he read The Action Plan for Canadian Scouting, Section 2.3

As Karl's said, if the youth like them and are enthusiastic that's all that matters to me.
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Errol Feldman
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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by Errol Feldman » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:41 am

AMEN Doug, so mote it be!
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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by ayates » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:57 am

Now while IMHO Liam (one of the few Scout leaders that I think runs a "proper" program, and for whom I have a great deal of respect) was out of line with his letter to the editor, and notwithstanding your other points are valid, the following does fall into the "half-truth" category:
Doug Reid wrote:I guess the fact that it was approved by the elected Scouts Canada Board of Governors doesn't count either.
When anybody can run for the board of directors, and every adult member as the opportunity for a direct vote, and candidates are allowed to publicise their position on issues, then I will believe we have an elected board. Until then it is effectively a self perpetuating dictatorship. MEC can do it with two million members, why can't we with 100,000?
Last edited by ayates on Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

BalooTwo
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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by BalooTwo » Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:16 am

Wow, and I thought my comments were harsh, and to use the Scout promise as a whip. I think everyone needs to stand in front of the mirror and reflect on the Scout promise and ask why we are in Scouting. The new uniforms are a done deal, like them or not (I am not). The way it was done is 'done', like it or not. If constructive and deconstructive critism can't be handled by all, then what are we doing? Close the forum and all lines of communication. Just because someone does not agree - are they a blasphemer? If something is done that you do not like, is it undemocratic if they don't listen to you? I didn't think Scouts was the military - we can and do have different opinions and should be encouraged to express them.

Well, at least the letter may generate people into looking into the new uniform and ultimately generate Scout exposure, good or bad press is after all press, and it could be worse and far more damaging.

So, has Scout's Canada forgotten the motto? If they weren't prepared for this, then I think....... :lol:

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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by 2ndBayRidgesCubs Kaa » Thu Mar 31, 2011 12:01 pm

So what was the purpose of this letter? It isn't going to change the uniform direction, whether you agree or not with the uniforms it is what it is moving forward.

Should we not like all orginzations try and present a united front to the public? We can discuss and argue with great passion privately, but publicly denoncing the unifrom and our National team does nothing to help our movement.

Just my two cents.
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Scouter Richie
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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by Scouter Richie » Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:15 am

I don't have much to add as I agree with most of the comments that have been posted.

Speaking your mind and voicing opinions is important but there is a time and place for everything. It was the right time but the wrong place. There is no benifit to publicly denouncing the organization you are trying to grow.
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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by bcbagheera » Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:07 am

As much as I do not believe the forum used was appropriate, I too believe that as much as National tells us this uniform (i use the term loosely, because there is nothing uniform about it, check the dictionary) was the result of consultation, I will not believe it until i see proof. Where are the survey results that are touted so often? Where were the focus groups? Who ultimately made the final decision? My personal opinion is that this was an Ottawa initiative, not a national one, and if you lived too far from there, you were left out of a large part of the process.

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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by Mike Stewart » Sat Apr 09, 2011 7:00 pm

A quick Google search reveals that this was also published in the Ottawa Citizen last week.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/travel/Sco ... story.html

I agree with most of the other comments here. Everyone should speak their mind, but publicly denouncing Scouts Canada in the media is both counter-productive and contrary to the Scout Law. I can understand that some people have issues with the uniform, but that letter was out of line. Publishing a biased and frankly untrue letter in multiple newspapers across the country is only going to hurt the movement that you claim to serve. It is unfortunate that some of our adult members would actively work to undo the positive change and growth that we have achieved over the past two years.

@edit Looks like it was also published by The National Post, The Edmonton Journal, The Waterloo Record, and posted as a comment on the Cape Breton Post.

http://www.nationalpost.com/todays-pape ... story.html
http://www.edmontonjournal.com/opinion/ ... story.html
http://www.therecord.com/opinion/letter ... have-erred
http://www.capebretonpost.com/Living/20 ... sh-Style/1
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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by BalooTwo » Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:09 am

Aside from the timing and medium of the message, what exactly is 'untrue'? Please tell me exactly what was "untrue"?

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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by Nick Pearson » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:24 pm

I'll handle this one.

While what most of what Liam says is true, quite often he pushes the limit of "truth", and then takes a few more steps. I'll break it down, step by step.
Scouts Canada's "new" uniform is little different from the one introduced in 1968. One thing is different: Putting badges on the sleeve instead of the badge sash is what was done before 1968. No, the new uniform is not modern. It is change for the sake of change, a poor attempt to stem flagging membership through window dressing when big improvements in program quality are what is needed.
Not modern? I will leave that as his personal opinion, since fashion is such a subjective matter. Adding words to that debate would be a waste of breath.

As to the charge of window dressing vs improvements in program quality, I can make an argument. Yes this just a different image, scouting with a different look. On it's own, I would agree with him. However, this is not the only initiative coming from National lately: I hope that list didn't break your mind. These are all initiatives available now, released in the last year. Not an exhaustive list, but should paint a picture; more support and resources for the front line volunteers, making it easier for them to do their jobs. The uniform is only a single initiative in a sea of others. If these kind of initiatives, combined, don't help increase program quality, I'm open to suggestions as to what will. Keep in mind there are a whole slew of other initiatives in the works, all with the same goal.

Next,
The current uniform, from 1991, is the same shirt that was worn for many years by Park Rangers in our national parks. It is a tough, practical, and smart-looking piece of outdoor equipment. Parents save because all ages except Beavers wear the same; no need to buy new until it gets too small. Trousers are navy blue, so kids can wear jeans they already own.
Youth are only required to have a necker and shirt. Type of pants are little more negotiable. I agree, the shirt looks sharp, and is tough. That's why the new shirts look very similar (perhaps a different colour) and are made from a strong durable poplin. I may have to step in and say the tan version of the uniform would not have been at the top of my list for practicality. Long sleeve shirts only? Cotton? Don't get me wrong. I wear it with pride. Everywhere.

It was mentioned that it was the same shirt worn for many years by Parks Rangers. Emphasis mine. Fabric technology has come a long way. Cavalry (Spelling Fixed) were key in deciding battles for centuries. Not so much now. Just because something worked, or was the best at the time, doesn't mean it will even qualify in today's world.

And now the crux of the letter,
The worst part is that the new uniform was designed by a tiny, unelected, unaccountable elite without membership involvement.

Scouts Canada has no democratic structure and expects volunteers to serve the corporation in silence.
Hoo Boy. Now Mr. Morland really starts to go off the "A Scout is Honest" part of his promise. Now if he condensed and left out parts of whole story in order to fit his letter into the allowed space, he did a poor job of choosing his word wisely.

This uniform was designed with membership involvement. To the degree I, and I suspect Liam, would have liked to have seen? No. But to say no involvement was allowed is twisting the facts. Surveys, focus groups and open invitation for comment were some of the ways. Perhaps "Limited", "Reduced", "Narrow", "Insufficient", or "Unsatisfactory" would have made for a better word.

Tiny? Well, one doesn't design by committee/consensus. Design by committee can lead to weak, middle of the road results. No bold moves, in order to appease everyone. I said Can, not will always lead to. They went with a well known fashion design firm, also one of the largest youth fashion firms in the country, after looking at dozens of companies (I will update with exact number once I refind that number).

Unelected? Well only the Board of Governors are elected in Scouts Canada, so you are correct that the other National Leadership Team are not elected. The BoG's is still elected. Yes it's a convoluted "Double Democracy" process, but it exists. Does it need improvement? Hells yes, and at the summit they announced they are looking to review Section 1014 of B.P&P. which covers election of voting members.

Unaccountable? I highly doubt that. They just changed over almost the entire national office staff. One can also more readily access top volunteers and staff than ever before. I have conversations with them on a regular basis, from 3000 Km's away. (Yes I'm talking access, not accountability, at this point. Access goes a long way for accountability). This also deals with the elite issue. Are they elusive if we can communicate with them, and take our opinions into consideration? While, always room for improvement in these categories, large steps have been made. They have also implemented a Public Appointments Process, while needing some work, is in the right step.

I covered the "no democratic structure" already, and will only add that Mr. Morland is again selectively picking which facts to acknowledge. Is it the democratic structure he wishes to see? Apparently not. Is it a democratic structure? Yes. Mr. Morland should have been more careful with his choice of words if he wishes his arguments to gain credibility in the eyes of his peers.

While Mr. Morland has every right in this free nation to say what he wants to, and I will defend his rights to do so, his lack of diplomacy and accuracy has hurt his argument. He is talking about many deep adult issues that Scouts Canada as a whole needs to have a discussion on. I'm sure given a chance for a longer form communication, he would prove to be more knowledgeable on how Scouts Canada can specifically move forward.

Edit: Corrected spelling as pointed out below.
Last edited by Nick Pearson on Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Robert D White
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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by Robert D White » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:52 pm

Nick

Sorry, both the editor and chaplain are coming through: "Calvary" is another name for the hill outside Jerusalem on which Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. "Cavalry" were mounted troops "key in deciding battles for centuries."
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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by ayates » Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:19 am

Nick Pearson wrote:The national portion of volunteer fees will be ZERO for 11/12 onward. More money for groups to spend on program
Notwithstanding you listed a large number of good initiatives, don't fall into the same trap of half truths here. While I think the fee restructuring is a good thing in that it will remove the incentive to not register all leaders, it does not necessarily result in more money for groups to spend on the program. Due to the increased youth fee (+27% in Voyageur council), the overall revenue for Scouts Canada has remained essentially the same. Thus while groups that had secondary revenue sources to fund the leader fees may now be able to spend that money on the program, any groups that relied directly on group fee funded by the parents will not see any extra funds becoming available for the program.
Nick Pearson wrote:Volunteer support, in person servicing,
While I have been saying for years more of this is needed, I still wonder where we will be able to find people with the time, energy, skills, and respect of their peers to do this. I do hope it can be made to work as this would hopefully increase the quality of the program delivered and that is what really needs work.
Nick Pearson wrote:and all their Youth counterparts
I do question the focus on youth commissions below the council level. I see Rover age youth, i.e. adults, doing good things at the council level. But all the area youth commissioners I have seen have added no value. They have been strictly appointments based on their parents involvement and been given awards for the same reason. And they are supposed to be one of the top three people at the area; that's laugh and an insult to the adults that do hard work at the area level. Now I hear there are supposed to be group youth commissioners. That is a real farce. Not that I don't think we should be offering leadership opportunities, as that is what Scouting is all about, but it should at the patrol level where it belongs. I have never seen a Scout patrol with a properly working PL, and have only heard of a few.

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Re: Letter of the Day

Post by bcbagheera » Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:03 pm

ayates wrote:I do question the focus on youth commissions below the council level. I see Rover age youth, i.e. adults, doing good things at the council level. But all the area youth commissioners I have seen have added no value. They have been strictly appointments based on their parents involvement and been given awards for the same reason. And they are supposed to be one of the top three people at the area; that's laugh and an insult to the adults that do hard work at the area level. Now I hear there are supposed to be group youth commissioners. That is a real farce. Not that I don't think we should be offering leadership opportunities, as that is what Scouting is all about, but it should at the patrol level where it belongs. I have never seen a Scout patrol with a properly working PL, and have only heard of a few.
And I think that you just insulted all the youth that DO hard work at the area level!!

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