Open Letter sent up to head office

Raves, rants, and comments about the 2011 uniform change
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Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by suzette » Sun Apr 03, 2011 1:38 pm

An Open Letter from the Proud Mom of a Wolf Cub;
I have just received an email allowing me a first look at the new uniforms for Scouts Canada and I am deeply disappointed. Where are the sashes?! We are returning to putting badges on sleeves, which means that the shirts, which are washed weekly, will include washing the badges, weekly. And when the child moves on to another size or another group, we, the moms, will be tasked with removing the badges and re-sewing them onto another uniform. This will ruin any hope of re-using or reselling a shirt, as it will be pocked and marked from previous badges. It will also take away the beautiful way of displaying badges after the child moves on. Most of us keep the badges on the sash for display and memory.
I simply do not understand why we are ignoring the lessons that have already been learned from previous cub uniforms.
If the desire is for a more rugged uniform, could we not simply have t-shirts and shorts for camp? The more proper uniform is worn with a great deal of pride by most of the boys. They look forward to wearing it properly and with pride. I am asked to press the scarf each week because my 9 year old thinks that it looks better to have everything pressed fresh. He tells me that his uniform must be perfect for inspection. He looks forward to being inspected. He also loves to wear his uniform to school during Baden-Powell week and for Remembrance Day. He will not be as proud of a shirt that is not tucked in. He will be very sad to not have a sash. While I know that the uniforms are grandfathered, he has a younger brother who is looking forward to the cub program and its big boy ways. The younger brother acknowledges that t-shirts are for beavers, but he will have to take good care when he is in cubs because he will need to honour his uniform. Why won’t he have the opportunity to wear a beautiful sash? I will need to explain to him that some people in another place made the decision for us. They didn’t ask the cubs what the cubs wanted. They didn’t ask the parents what the parents wanted.
If it was a case of economics, that somehow this new uniform will be cheaper, I would question that logic as well. My family would cut out something else to have a proper uniform. To now bring in a different uniform will actually be a cash grab for us, as we would have had a uniform to hand down, or a pool of previously worn uniforms to draw from. We will now need to purchase another new uniform, one that we don’t even like.
I am deeply disappointed in this decision. I now have doubts about how the rest of the organization of scouting is being handled and wonder if there are any more unpleasant surprises that are going to be announced. It makes me wonder if we should think seriously before we sign up for next year. But my children love their leaders and enjoy the pack programming. It isn’t fair to them to miss out on the joy of the program because head office is making such bizarre decisions.
Sincerely,
Suzette Bradley
Kingston ON

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the (very speedy) response

Post by suzette » Sun Apr 03, 2011 1:57 pm

Dear Suzette,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a thoughtful letter on behalf of your youth and other mothers. I hope I can address some of your concerns.

They uniform change was done after extensive data collection from a variety of methods and sources, including surveys, open calls for email comments, focus groups, and just listening to members over our combined decades of being involved in the movement. We listened to opinions from both members and non-members. A wealth of people contributed to the data gathering process, including well over 100 members who took the time to send us emails directly, all of which were read. We heard loud and clear that members wanted a fresh, modern look that they could be proud of, which was practical for participation in the types of active Scouting activities that we do. They wanted it to respect our long heritage and tradition while being in line with contemporary society. They also wanted it to be socially and environmentally responsible.

Even after the initial designs were proposed and preliminary samples were received we held focus groups for further consultation, which did include cub-aged youth and their parents, to ensure we were not completely off track. Every change we made was with the best interests of the youth in mind in order to give a Scout uniform look while being practical for the kinds of active activities that our members participate in when a solid program is being run.

You are correct that there are no longer going to be sashes offered with the revitalized uniform line. Although your boys obviously really love their sash, that sentiment is not universal across the country. We heard that the sash was an impractical part of the uniform and generally held low popularity. Of course, there will always being varying opinions but the majority of members were in favour of finding an alternative for badge display.

I fully understand your concerns about needing to sew all the badges on the sleeve of the uniform. As someone who has sewn every badge I have every earned on my own uniform, I know how awkward and painful to the fingers it is to sew on sleeve badges! However we are working hard on a solution to prevent the need for sewing on any badges, ever again. The Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts, American Legion, and a variety of other organizations have started using a great new product called Badge Magic (http://www.badgemagic.com). This is an amazing product which is basically a peel and stick, pressure sensitive adhesive which sticks badges on to shirts securely without sewing, allowing them to be washed many times without problem. Best of all, individual badges can be removed, as necessary, with an adhesive remover which leaves behind no residue. If you would like to remove all badges from a shirt to pass it on to another member, you can dry clean the shirt in a laundry bag. All the badges will fall right off. I encourage you to check out the website, as it really is an amazing product. Scouts in the United States have been extremely pleased with it.

Now, I need to point out a disclaimer here. Badge Magic is not quite ready for our Canadian Scouting shirts - yet. Since our new shirts have different fabric than the BSA shirts the formulation needs to be slightly modified in order to optimize the stick. This is being worked on right now, and we are confident a solution will be found shortly. I am told that the current formulation does work for the new cub scout shirt, so your boys should be set for sure.

In terms of proudly displaying badges once a youth has finished his or her time in a section, we will be producing a binder and a banner which badges can be transferred to as a keepsake. Of course, they can always be sewn on campfire blankets, as well.

I believe that our revitalized designs do, indeed, look sharp and are suitable for formal occasions such as Remembrance Day ceremonies. We designed them so that they could be worn untucked in casual situations, but the shirts are suitable for tucking in, as well. If you look at the pictures on the launch website, you will see that about half of the youth are wearing their shirts tucked in. (http://scouts.ca/uniformlaunch/uniform.html). I think once your Beaver Scout sees his big brother with a shirt full of badges he will be just as proud and excited to get to that stage, himself. The new look is quite in line with other Scouting organizations such as UK Scouts, Scouts Australia, and other European Scouting organizations which are experiencing high popularity and staying true to their core values despite altering their appearance. As you alluded to, pride in the uniform is about pride for what the uniform stands for - membership in the World Organization of the Scouting Movement. Even with the new look youth can still take pride in wearing a clean uniform with badges straight and a neat scarf.

You mentioned a concern about any new surprises that the national leadership of Scouts Canada has in store. It is true that we are working on many changes for our organization right now in an effort to make it easier for volunteers to deliver programs, enhance our organizational capacity, encourage meaningful youth involvement, and recruit and retain new youth and volunteers. It is not our intention for these to be surprises. This is all part of our strategy to revitalize and grow Scouts Canada to place it back on the map as the premier organization for youth in Canada. You can read all about our complete strategy in the Action Plan for Canadian Scouting, available at www.scoutingnow.org This document has been widely circulated and was developed with input from members across Canada.

I hope that I have helped to address your concerns. Please feel free to write again if you have further questions. It is helpful if you can direct or 'cc' your questions to uniform@scouts.ca because we are trying to compile all the frequently asked questions through that address, for posting to our website for the benefit of all members.

I am so happy to hear about how much your youth are enjoying their time in Scouts Canada. They must have great Leaders. That is what it's all about!

Sincerely,

Jessica Page
Vice Chair - Strategic
Board of Governors
Scouts Canada
www.scouts.ca
"It starts with Scouts!"
M: (647) 380-4927

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by bcbagheera » Sun Apr 03, 2011 9:29 pm

Dear Jessica,

You do not see RCMP officers chasing the bad guys in their red serge uniforms, or the military on the field in their dress uniforms. The sash was part of our formal uniform, not for general play, etc. You wore it for openings, closings, and special events, like fundraisers and Remembrance Day, etc. Peoples complaints about the sash for the most part seem to be because they were wearing them at the wrong time!! So instead of educating them, you get rid of it? The sash was a quick and easy way when you finished your section to transfer your badges to your campfire blanket! What is the point of a binder or plaque! You still want to display your badges to others, and your campfire blanket is an ideal way to do it. How many youth or parents are going to remove their badges and resew them individually onto their blankets? As to the "badge magic", you are missing the point i think, you are changing the badges to a woven instead of embroidered style. How are these going to react to weekly washes?

As to the "extensive" consultation you undertook, why was there nothing sent to the areas or individual scouters about possible designs so we could all provide feedback? In this world of electronic media and email, you could very well have gotten feedback from the whole membership, from beavers to leaders, but instead, after the survey, you chose to leave most of us out in the cold!! (by the way, are we going to ever see the survey results or do we have to take your word on it?) You comment that you received emails, but how can I email you feedback when I do not know what your are considering as options? I have 3 sons who have been raised in Scouting. One Rover and two Queen's Venturer ( I left off the "scout" in the section names because they don't like it, and no one was consulted on that one either) who all started as Beavers. Not one of them are happy with your options. They wanted to be consulted too. I don't believe a vote on them was necessary, but if you had provided some options, everyone could have provided feedback.

One last note, I started as a Beaver Leader back in 1997 when my oldest started as a 1st year Beaver. I did leave when Co-ed was forced upon us all, but returned when my sons all said they wanted to still continue (they were 7, 6 and 5 at the time). I still don't believe in co-ed, as I believe that there should be places for boys to be boys with only other boys around, seeing as almost everywhere else in their lives are already co-ed, but have never let my personal belief hinder any female youth that wanted to be part of our Group. The jist of this run on is that I have remained a leader IN SPITE of the the changes National forces on us without consultation, not because of it.

YIS

Paul Martyn
Cub Leader
Ex Group Commissioner, Ex Registrar, Ex Beaver Leader
(But still Chief Cook and Bottle Washer at Camp!) :D

PS I do appreciate the time you spent on the uniforms, I just feel there could have been more consultation!

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by whuggard » Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:30 am

Who washs their uniform every week?
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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by suzette » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:20 am

If there is any snack served, we are washing the uniform, lol. And if uniform isn't off before bedtime snack at home, same same. One would think that the child would eventually remember where he left his mouth!

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by bcbagheera » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:03 am

Once a week or once a month is not really important (although I believe for scout and cub aged youth their parents will be more diligent for the most part than if it is left to the youth) I still have a concern over the durability of a woven badge.

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by LoyalistMang » Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:09 am

I took exception with a couple of Jessica Page's points, so I sent this last night:
I've recently received a copy of this email from a disgruntled Cub mother along with Jessica Page's response and I would like to address several points in Ms. Page's email.

Consultation: What consultation? I have been a leader in this organization since 2006 and have received volumes of mail (both paper and electronic) from all levels of Scouts Canada in that time. I've searched my email archives and can honestly say that I was never given an opportunity to participate in any way, shape or form. The same goes for the rest of our group's leaders.

Responsibility: Ms. Page says that members wanted the new uniform to be "socially and environmentally responsible". Of course we do, look at the organization that we volunteer in. Unfortunately, you had a chance to do something very good and then failed utterly. According to the label of the shirt, in an image provided to the press by Scouts Canada, they're made in China! The last I heard, Chinese manufacturing and labour practices don't come even close to being socially or environmentally responsible. How can you possibly expect Canadian youth to proudly wear uniforms manufactured in a country that routinely puts children their age to work in textile factories?

Unfortunately, neither of my current uniform shirts were made under stellar labour conditions either: one in China, the second in Vietnam. You have an opportunity to do some real good here and you're not only throwing it away, you seem to be blissfully unaware of the fact. In this global economy, it would behoove a youth-centred organization to guarantee that child labour comes nowhere near the manufacture of their uniforms. It only makes sense.

The way in which this uniform has been developed and introduced has generated a groundswell of discontent, both in the membership and the parents of the youth. Autocratically imposed change, change which appears to have no underlying justification, is an excellent way to drive away long-serving leaders. The grumbling has begun and useless platitudes like the ones coming from National are doing nothing but damage.

You still have time to do something about this, but the window of opportunity grows smaller by the day. I urge you all to take a step back, swallow your pride and re-think things. Admitting a mistake is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength.

Yis
Gord Campbell
Akela, 1st Sydenham Pack
Loyalist Area DAC - Communications

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by LoyalistMang » Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:10 am

As with Suzette's message, she replied very quickly:
As I mentioned in my response to Suzette Bradley, the consultation process consisted of a variety of methods and sources including online surveys, focus groups with members and non-members, informal chats with members over the combined decades we have been involved in the organization, and an open call-out for input. The online surveys were administered by an external group doing a parallel assessment of our uniform. They offered us access to preliminary, high-level analysis of their data which was used in the early design process. Over 5000 members completed their survey. The National Youth Network also designed a survey which they independently administered via the active Council Youth Commissioners and Area Youth Commissioners which were in place at the time. All members were invited to share their thoughts on the uniform by directly emailing uniform@scouts.ca or the Chief Commissioner, Steve Kent. This invitation came in the form of a written article in the Aug/Sept 2010 issue of Scouting Life magazine. I believe it was also advertised in an eblast sent to registered members. We had well over 100 direct emails in response.

I am sorry that you were not aware of the opportunity to have your thoughts on the uniform known in time for them to be incorporated into the design process. With 100 000 members across Canada it can be difficult to reach each one individually, however we did try to reach as many as we could. I am confident that we heard from a wide enough cross-section and sample that the data we had was representative of our organization's views as a whole. Please understand that our final choices were compromise of needs and wants from groups across the country.

The items in the revitalized uniform line are sourced from multiple manufacturing locations in the world. Joe Fresh is a socially conscious company, as is Scouts Canada. We absolutely do not tolerate the use of child labour, and neither do they. All of their factories and suppliers have been audited by third party organizations to ensure they meet industry and environmental standards. The following is a statement taken from the Joe Fresh website, which will also apply to our clothing:

"Our clothing is made in state-of-the-art factories around the world which have passed a third party social compliance audit conducted by Bureaus Veritas. Many of our factories are also ISO, WRAP and CTPAT certified. We respect all local laws and ensure that factories are socially compliant. We have a zero-tolerance policy for child labour and forced labour and hold the highest standards for health and safety, and environmental compliance."


Literally hundreds of hours of thought, planning, and research have gone in to this project. We are confident that the direction we are headed is the right one for Scouts Canada. While we have received some comments expressing concern or dislike of the revitalized uniform line, the overwhelming response has been extremely positive. Scout organizations in similar countries to Canada have undergone recent image changes, such as Scouts Australia and UK Scouts, and they have come out the other side stronger than ever before. We can too. This image change is just that: a change in look. Our core values remain. The backbone of the Scouting program is the amazing activities and opportunities for growth that caring volunteers like yourself provide on a daily basis across the country. None of that is changing - we will just be doing it in more practical clothing.

I appreciate your concern in the future of this movement that we all care so much about.
Ms. Page,

Unfortunately, I do not share your faith in Joe Fresh's ability to monitor their manufacturing facilities. Apple had thought that their contractor's facilities were up to par, then word got out that buildings had been netted to prevent more worker suicides. The global economy is driven by paying low wages to desperate workers in third-world countries. It seems to me that a meaningful commitment to social responsibility would automatically exclude the overseas manufacture of product.

You must also keep in mind that the simple fact that you've heard very few negative comments does not mean that the rest of the membership are happy. They aren't.
Gord Campbell
Akela, 1st Sydenham Pack
Loyalist Area DAC - Communications

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by Kaylee Galipeau » Tue Apr 05, 2011 2:47 pm

1stBayridgeMang- I have refrained from commenting on any uniform talk until now, but your statement struck out to me, and in fact made me laugh. You are accusing Jessica (a volunteer btw) of doing all of this without consultation and saying that the membership is unhappy. She has outlined a long list of ways of consultation, and I'm sure she has a large stock of positive e-mails and other forms of communication.

From what I can tell, You on the other hand are offering an opinion:
"You must also keep in mind that the simple fact that you've heard very few negative comments does not mean that the rest of the membership are happy. They aren't."

I'm sure she has seen many negative comments, but also many many positives. You state that the membership is not happy... where is your consultation on this fact? Hopefully your answer is not the 20-30 or so regular posters on this forum & your home group. The organization is much bigger than that, and I assure you that many members are quite happy with the change, especially youth. I too have received many e-mails, fb messages and comments as a result of my role, and although there are many negatives, there are definitely more positives. In fact- many negatives turned into to positives (or at least satisfied) when their concerns and questions were answered.

I guess what I am saying is, you can speak for yourself and even your group- but please refrain from speaking for all the members, there are many who would disagree!

YiS
Kaylee
YiS,
Kaylee Galipeau
National Youth Commissioner
CJ2013 Special Events Manager

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by bcbagheera » Tue Apr 05, 2011 5:51 pm

yes kaylee, the organization is way bigger than that. Unfortunatly, where were the samples of what was come up with before the final design was presented to National?? surely they did not get one sample and approve it. Whether or not we sought out the channels to provide input (which we shouldnt have had to do anyways), we should have had input on the choices provided by Joe Fresh to the uniform committee. By no means do I think my personal opinion should be incorporated in the final product, but at least offer us the chance to provide our feedback!! If that had been done, I bet you would have had a lot less negative responses.

PS- I hope your comment about the 20-30 regular posters here does not mean our opinion does not count

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by Kaylee Galipeau » Tue Apr 05, 2011 6:37 pm

Of course your opinion matters, that is why these forums are here. I happen to be one of the semi-regular posters and as a Service Scouter I come here often looking for suggestions & ideas. Unfortunately I usually find personal criticisms instead of anything constructive.

Unfortunately I believe you missed the point of my post. I was saying that 1stBayridgeMang's post was quite hypocritical in saying that Jess Page acted for the country without consultation (which I do disagree with), and then immediately following he declared that that SC's members are not happy, which is indeed a statement made without consultations or confirmation with anyone outside his group or this forum.

My point was that he should speak for himself, as he has not polled every member, and indeed has heard from far less members than Jessica. He is entitled to his opinion, however I hope that he doesn't present it in a manner that suggests it is the opinion on the entire organization.
YiS,
Kaylee Galipeau
National Youth Commissioner
CJ2013 Special Events Manager

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by bcbagheera » Tue Apr 05, 2011 8:28 pm

Yes Kaylee that is true, no one should try to say they speak for everyone. On that note, please call me when you have polled the silent majority, the ones that no matter what, won't speak their minds (especially on public forums), for or against, but instead grin and bear it. Some MAY speak if asked individually. Sorry Kaylee, I am not trying to turn this personal, but how many positives have come in, vs negatives, vs silence? Silence does not necessarily mean positive.(or negative).

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by LoyalistMang » Tue Apr 05, 2011 8:56 pm

Kaylee Galipeau wrote:You state that the membership is not happy... where is your consultation on this fact? Hopefully your answer is not the 20-30 or so regular posters on this forum & your home group. The organization is much bigger than that, and I assure you that many members are quite happy with the change, especially youth. I too have received many e-mails, fb messages and comments as a result of my role, and although there are many negatives, there are definitely more positives. In fact- many negatives turned into to positives (or at least satisfied) when their concerns and questions were answered.
Kaylee, you've misunderstood what I said. I did not say that the membership is not happy. I said that it was folly to assume that silence means contentment. Silence more often indicates a "why bother" attitude.

I find your defense of Ms. Page admirable, but she's the only member of the board who has seen fit to reply to myself or Suzette. Therefore, my criticisms of the board and their actions are directed to her.

The fact remains that while she says that extensive consultation was done in regards to the uniforms, I have been unable to locate anyone who has participated. Contrary to what you say, I have spoken directly to a number of members in four different council. Before I came to this forum. I truly hope that the only method of asking for our participation was no the Aug/Sept 2010 issue of Scouting Life. Contact information for all of us is in MMS. It would have taken less effort to send us all emails than it did to write the magazine article.

All we want is to be honestly consulted. Is that too much to ask for?
Gord Campbell
Akela, 1st Sydenham Pack
Loyalist Area DAC - Communications

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by suzette » Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:32 pm

just to set the record straight, almost all of the people that I sent my letter to *did* respond, though all responses were a variation of "I have forwarded your email on to Ms Page". They were completely neutral in their emails.

For what its worth.

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by bellscornerscommish » Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:54 pm

I'm very puzzled by the people who say they weren't consulted, that e-mails weren't sent. I still have in my scouting e-mail the all-points-bulletin from Steve Kent announcing that Joe Fresh would work on the new uniforms and inviting both us all to take a survey and provide input. Apparently I wasn't the only one who did take the survey, and while the new uniform is not quite what I'd envisioned, at least somebody heard the input about better, more outdoors-appropriate fabrics!

I get the impression that a lot of posters would have liked to have several different possible models of new uniforms presented to them and then been able to choose between them (or say no to all of them?). That would have been a slow and expensive process for a cash-strapped volunteer organisation!

Speaking to folks who were around when the last uniform change happened (20 years ago?) there has been a lot more consultation and hoopla around this change than the last time....

Jim

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by kaa27th » Wed Apr 06, 2011 7:27 am

I'm very puzzled by the people who say they weren't consulted, that e-mails weren't sent. I still have in my scouting e-mail the all-points-bulletin from Steve Kent announcing that Joe Fresh would work on the new uniforms and inviting both us all to take a survey and provide input. Apparently I wasn't the only one who did take the survey, and while the new uniform is not quite what I'd envisioned, at least somebody heard the input about better, more outdoors-appropriate fabrics!
True, I remember all those e-mails as well and I did take the survey.
YIS
Akela (formerly Kaa),
Peterborough, ON

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by LoyalistMang » Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:04 am

I assure you that I received nothing of the sort and have been unable to find anyone in the Area who did.

I keep all of my email and the first mention of it was something last fall announcing the choice of Joe Fresh.
Gord Campbell
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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by Robert D White » Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:27 am

I assure you that I received nothing of the sort and have been unable to find anyone in the Area who did.

I keep all of my email and the first mention of it was something last fall announcing the choice of Joe Fresh.
I would suggest that is a communication issue within your Area rather than with National. To the best of my recollection, there were at least two e-mail blasts coming from National regarding the survey. Other information came through the Council to the Area.

Unfortunately, some Areas are more effective at passing information on to their leaders than others.
Robert White
Group Commissioner, 1st Guelph Firefighter Venturers/1st Guelph Rovers
Chaplain, Wellington Area
I'm an ISTJ

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by mdiegel » Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:10 am

I too remember the emails from natonal regarding the survey on the new uniform. Prior to the introduction of the current uniform I do not remember any consultation in our district. First time I saw the uniform was in the Leader magazine. With email etc, this time around I feel that the consultation and the opportunity for feedback was much better. Still, I wish they had kept the sash, which I said when I filled out the survey. What all of us need to remember is that the programme is not the uniform, while I do like having one, and ultimately the colour of the uniform is not that important. This will be my fifth colour for uniform (old grey Wolf Cubs, Green, Grey, Tan) and I only wish that I had not just bought a new shirt last August.

Michael Diegel
1st Rosthern SK
Cubs

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Re: Open Letter sent up to head office

Post by Hawkeye3 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:38 pm

Can we see the survey results? Are they posted anywhere?

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